Air Canada Embraer E-190. Courtesy, AC

Air Canada's (AC) labor troubles took another negative turn late Tuesday when the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), representing the airline's 8,600 mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents, served notice of a strike to start March 12.

AC, navigating a series of difficult labor challenges (ATW Daily News, Feb. 10), had reached a tentative agreement last month with IAMAW leadership on a new contract. But around 67% of the workers rejected the tentative accord in voting.

"The lines of communication remain open and we are hopeful that there remains sufficient time to avoid a work disruption," AC executive VP and COO Duncan Dee said. "We regret the uncertainty for our customers … This threatened job action follows the disappointing rejection of the unanimously recommended tentative agreement signed by the IAMAW bargaining committee."

AC is in the middle of a six-month federal mediation process with the Air Canada Pilots Assn. representing its 3,000 pilots. The pilots also voted to strike last month, but Canadian labor minister Lisa Raitt helped convince them to enter federal mediation instead.