On January 9, WestJet announced an agreement regarding the employment conditions for WestJet Encore Cabin Crew Members. Encore Cabin Crew Members never had an opportunity to vote on their agreement – and the company intends to keep it this way.
In an attempt to explain why the company didn’t offer employees themselves the opportunity to vote on the agreement, WestJet said “Encore is still a young company and it would not benefit the business or the Cabin Crew to have an agreement that builds road blocks.” Even though the agreement is effective January 1, Encore Cabin Crew Members will not be able to view the full terms of the agreement until the end of the month.
This “evergreen” agreement has no end date. Further, it is not a real Collective Agreement and will not be recognized by the Labour Board.
One thing is clear: until WestJet Encore Cabin Crew Members join CUPE and have the chance to negotiate the terms of their own Collective Agreement, they will not get a say over their working conditions.
Unlike WestJet management, CUPE does not think workplace democracy is a road block. In CUPE, members elect representatives to serve on the bargaining committee to represent their interests in negotiations with the employer. The bargaining committee must bring any tentative agreement back to the local membership for a vote. All CUPE Collective Agreements are ratified by the members.
This move by WestJet to try and prevent unionization shows an acknowledgement of the deteriorating relationship between the company and Encore Cabin Crew Members. But denying employees a voice is not a solution.
WestJet Encore Cabin Crew Members need independent, democratic, legal representation. They need CUPE, Canada’s flight attendant union with 11,500 airline members across the country.