02/21/2014 11:24 EST | Updated 04/23/2014 05:59 EDT

Union vows fight over United Airlines job cuts

The union for some of the United Airlines workers who are being laid off says it will fight the decision.

The company announced Thursday it will lay off 240 employees in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto.

Close to 60 workers — ticket agents and baggage handlers — in Calgary will lose their jobs. United's Toronto operations will lose 95 jobs and Vancouver will lose 84 positions.

Fred Hospes, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said the union was in contract negotiations with the company when he heard about the layoffs.

He said the union will be challenging the decision.

“And I've got to tell you this was surreal to these members and it was devastating. This is going to impact a lot of families across the country. It's devastating news,” he said.

“You know this organization's going to do what it can in order to preserve these jobs and protect these people.”

United says it needs to make the cuts to run a more efficient and financially stable operation.

It will outsource the jobs by the beginning of May.