Renewal of collective agreements and the fate of the Q400

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The acceptance of the agreement by the members of the two UNIFOR locals representing approximately 2100 employees of the Bombardier facilities in Downsview, secures in the short term the production of the Global and in particular that of the Global 7500 whose first delivery must place before the end of 2018.


The new collective agreement, which will expire in June 2021, gives Bombardier Business Aircraft time to plan the relocation of the Global Assembly Line to Pearson Airport. Over the next three years, it will be able to accelerate production to its maximum in order to empty the well-garnished Global 7500 order book and then make a smooth transition to the Pearson production site. The document published by Local 673 of UNIFOR reveals an agreement with Bombardier that allows Bombardier to outsource the production of Learjet’s wings or to resort to subcontracting, but without any job losses for union members.


On the Q400 side the situation is more nebulous, because despite some surprising provisions, there is no clear indication of what Bombardier Commercial Aircraft will do with this aircraft program. Two of the Local 673 Letters of Agreement refer to the future of the Q400.


The first is as follows: « in order to properly support the transfer of operations currently in scope at the Downsview facility, the parties agree to meet to formally discuss the transition of any/all employee movement from the Downsview facility and to defer any/all discussions until such time that there is sufficient clarity with regard to the future location of the Q400 program and potential timing of the move ».


The second letter of agreement is more surprising because it refers to the 2016 agreement that allowed Bombardier to relocate production from the cockpit and wings of the Q400 and is worded as follows: « During the course of the negotiations of the collective agreement 2018, the Parties agreed, for the life of the Collective Agreement 2018 – 2021, to suspend the application of the Memorandum of Understanding on Q400 Program Competitiveness dated June 5, 2016. If suitable for the Union, during the life of the Collective Agreement 2018 – 2021, the parties agree that the Union can decide to void the present Letter of Intent. »


This decline in Bombardier’s ability to reduce the cost of production of the Q400 is surprising when it had to insist twice before being able to convince the union of the importance of this clause for workers and for survival of the Q400. It can be inferred that between the signing of the agreement in the summer of 2016 and now, a basic fundamental data has changed about the Q400 which makes the need to outsource the production of the cockpit and wings is no longer an emergency.


The renewal of the two collective agreements last weekend is one step closer to a decision on the fate of the Q400, but its next production location remains unknown. The Greater Toronto Area is large and it is quite possible for municipalities like Hamilton, Oshawa and Pickering to make a generous offer to Bombardier. It’s definitely a record to follow.

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