Four major Toronto unions are supporting Porter Airlines’ proposal to operate the Bombardier CS100 jet from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to longer-range destinations such as Vancouver, Los Angeles and Miami, saying that approval of the plan will benefit Toronto’s economy and support much-needed manufacturing jobs.
UNIFOR Downsview; Carpenters Union Local 27; Local 506, Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA); and International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), District Council 46, have made official submissions to Toronto City Council to express their support for Porter’s proposal. Approval of the plan, according to a City of Toronto study, will generate $250 million of additional annual economic impact and 2,000 new jobs, including 1,000 directly at Porter.
“Porter Airlines and their fleet of 26 Q400s manufactured at Bombardier’s Downsview facility have been very important to us and our workforce,” said Merv Grey, plant chairperson for UNIFOR. “I speak on behalf of myself and our membership when I say that Porter’s investment of over $600 million in Toronto-built aircraft has produced significant benefits for our employment base, the aerospace industry and the local economy.”
The union leaders pointed out that more than 60 companies in the Greater Toronto Area will manufacture parts for the landing gear, the auxiliary power unit and various other components of the CS100 to be assembled at Bombardier’s facility outside of Montreal.
“This story is about more than buying airplanes,” said Joe Russo, business manager, IUPAT, District Council 46. “Porter’s initiative to invest in Billy Bishop Airport has already supported a lot of work for skilled trades. These latest plans offer more opportunity to sustain good jobs.”
“LIUNA supports the economic spin-off that Porter will provide to the convention centre, and area tourism and hospitality,” said Carmen Principato, business manager for Local 506 of LiUNA, which represents 8,000 Toronto workers. “The travel and tourism industry is important to Toronto and Porter is part of the plan to continue growing Toronto into a top-notch tourist destination.”
The proposal would see significant work take place for projects such as runway development and local infrastructure in support of managing efficient airport traffic access. In addition, the increased travel options will add to the attractiveness of working and living downtown and support further development of both downtown office towers and residential condominiums.
“We need to take opportunities like this to build our city, not just through infrastructure, but by making Toronto more accessible and visible to those who want to visit and do business with us,” said Mike Yorke, president, Carpenters Union Local 27. “Our members want equally to enjoy Toronto’s revitalized waterfront and the chance to take a vacation that is actually affordable. We can support both efforts and have even greater benefits for everyone.”
However, while Unifor Local 112 expressed its support for Porter Airlines’ proposal to operate the Bombardier jets out of the Toronto Island Airport, Unifor’s national president, Jerry Dias said that “Unifor, as a national union, has not taken a position regarding the use of jet aircraft at the Toronto Island Airport.
Dias said that, “While locals are free to develop their own positions, they do not speak for the National Union. I want to be clear. In no way does the position of Local 112 reflect the National Union’s position.”
He indicated, as well, that, “Unifor is committed to participating in a discussion about the expansion of the Toronto Island Airport. Our participation will be guided by our commitment to good jobs and respect for the local community.”