Since we began working with Cabin Crew Members to support their desire to become unionized last month, we’ve received a few questions about how CUPE Airline Locals fit into our organization’s structure. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen a number of rumours circulate, and we’ve seen more than a few attempts to mislead and misinform you and your colleagues in order to discredit CUPE. But facts are what matter most when you’re making a decision as important as this one about whether to join a union, and so facts are all I’m going to offer you here today.
CUPE is a national union made up of 650,000 members, with 2,116 local unions and over 3,000 collective agreements. We have local unions (or “locals”) from coast to coast to coast and 69 offices across Canada.
Locals at CUPE have full local autonomy, and to me that’s what makes our union so strong. Locals decide their structure, their dues, their bylaws, their internal process, and whether they affiliate to their Provincial Divisions, sectors, and councils. The CUPE Constitution provides the basic rules that locals need to follow but the rest is up to the membership to decide.
At CUPE, we offer our locals extensive resources in areas like legal, communications, research, health and safety, pay equity, education, and more in order to help you secure the best collective agreement possible. National staff have a voice in the affairs of our union, but they do not vote. That privilege belongs solely to our membership.
The Airline Service Division, formerly the Airline Division, has changed over the years. Notably, members no longer pay any portion of their dues to the Airline Service Division. Four regular meetings of the division are held each year, and each airline local president or their delegate has the option to attend. Meetings are sometimes held in person or via conference calls.
The Airline Service Division does not conduct coordinated bargaining nor does it decide what each airline bargains. They are a consensus model body and if there are any monetary decisions to be made, the decision needs to be unanimous in order to be adopted. It is a consultative council that shares reports and, if necessary, discusses and decides on campaigns they think will support and benefit airline members. Consider, for example, the campaigns that CUPE currently has underway, fighting for higher ratios of flight attendants to passengers, and for better protections for flight attendants from toxic air and radiation. These campaigns are getting attention and getting results – and that’s only possible because of the national, coordinated, consensus-based approach that CUPE is able to take as Canada’s leading flight attendant union.
With 11,500 airline members around the country, CUPE represents the vast majority of flight attendants in Canada, and I believe our reputation for negotiating the best contracts in the industry speaks for itself. We understand your unique company culture and work environment, and we’re excited to bring our thirty years of experience and expertise in the industry to make your work life at WestJet even better.
This October, CUPE’s Airline Service Division Conference will be held in advance of our National Convention. It would be an honour to welcome WestJet Cabin Crew to this year’s conference and convention as new CUPE members.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about CUPE or the Airline Service Division, please get in touch!
CUPE National President