Contract negotiations between a company and its unions are normal events in a unionized company. Air Canada is a federally regulated business and its negotiations with its unions are governed by the Canada Labour Code. The bargaining process can take several months to conclude.
A collective agreement may provide that its own provisions continue to apply after its expiration until a new contract is agreed to, except during a strike or a lock-out. Therefore, when a unit is said to be “without a contract”, the previous contract continues in fact to apply. This is the case of the agreement between Air Canada and its pilots’ association.