The diva and the union (Editorial)

By John Hobel
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/08/2004

It’s one of those times when HR and senior management throw up their hands and let out a collective groan about unions. I’m referring to all the complaining and shortsighted negativity labour leaders heaped on Air Canada for having the “audacity” to spend money hiring Céline Dion to promote the airline.

Emerging from the cloud of bankruptcy protection, Air Canada has launched a new marketing campaign, complete with new colours and branding for planes and uniforms. Much to its credit, the company put a new face on a troubled past and boldly stepped into the competitive hunt for travellers’ business. As spokesperson for the airline, Dion will certainly boost Air Canada’s visibility in the market.

Dion is an international sensation and, in airports from Paris to Los Angeles, as recognizably Canadian as Mounties and beavers. But rather than viewing her signing as a media coup, union representatives are complaining about the cost of hiring Dion at a time when workers are still being laid off — as if union leaders should have some say over the marketing department’s budget.