Approximately one-third of unionized employees at the Abbotsford-based aircraft maintenance company Cascade Aerospace could be laid off in the coming months.
According to Bruce Snow, a national representative with Unifor who works with the union’s Cascade unit, 69 members have been given notice of layoff, with the possibility of 50 more to come in November. At its height, the union had 461 members working at Cascade.
Thirty non-union employees are also being laid off, according to Snow.
Kim Tamminga, a Cascade spokesperson, said the company would not be commenting on the layoffs or the reason for them at this time.
“The reason for layoffs is lack of work, this is not unusual in aerospace maintenance and repair,” said Snow. “We are always concerned with any future layoffs; however, we have confidence in Cascade’s ability to successfully bid and secure future work for our members.”
The union was made aware of the layoffs in advance of their announcement, he said.
The News has spoken to Cascade employees, who have expressed concerns about the layoffs and job security at the company.
A former mechanical engineer at Cascade, who asked not to be named, claimed to have moved to Abbotsford after being recruited by the company, only to be laid off one year later. The engineer was recalled when there was work available, only to be laid off three more times over the next five years.
Unifor members signed a new four-year deal with Cascade in August of 2014, after an 11-week strike. The deal gave workers greater job security and avoided cuts to young workers’ benefits.
The settlement included significant wage increases, higher premiums for confined spaces work, and a written commitment to maintain Abbotsford as the primary heavy maintenance facility for RCAF C-130 aircraft, according to the union, at the time.