WestJet pilots have been trying to negotiate a fair contract since September 2017. This has included a 60-day federal conciliation period during which independent conciliation officers appointed by the Minister of Labour tried to assist the parties in reaching a deal. On April 25, WestJet’s ALPA Master Executive Council (MEC) opened a strike vote which will remain open for 15 days in order to provide their members a reasonable opportunity to participate.
A strike vote is a vote of confidence. It is a vote of the union’s members on how strongly they support the bargaining committee’s demands to the employer. A strong strike mandate sends a powerful message of unity. It is a negotiating tool under the Canada Labour Code to maximize the union’s position at the bargaining table. A strike vote does not guarantee a strike will occur.
Often unions and employers are able to reach a deal without having to resort to a strike vote. If the company had been taking the pilots’ legitimate demands seriously over the past eight months, a strike vote would not be necessary.
If no agreement is reached by the end of the last day of conciliation April 27, a 21 day statutory “cooling-off” period begins. The pilots have stated they are open to negotiating 24/7 during this period. If this period is also exhausted, the pilots are legally permitted to strike. A “strike” can mean a variety of collective actions designed to apply economic pressure on the employer. It does not necessarily mean a system-wide withdrawal of services. It’s important to remember the pilots have stated they want to avoid any possible job action and do not want to strike.
What will happen to Cabin Crew Members in the event of strike action?
This is a question for the company. Without a union, it is solely WestJet’s discretion on how a contingency plan will be implemented. Matters of pay and requirement to report to base are up to the company. With a union, Cabin Crew Members would have the ability to negotiate a provision in a legally binding collective agreement that could stipulate a protocol to be followed in the event of a third-party strike.
The WestJet pilots’ bargaining proposals are reasonable and represent the industry standard enjoyed by other pilots within North America. WestJet pilots are worth an industry-standard contract. The efforts are for a collective agreement that protects WestJet flying and WestJet careers, contains fair and healthy work rules, and recognizes the true value, vast experience and professionalism of WestJet pilots. The goal is to get to a fair deal that brings stability to the airline.
CUPE has established open channels with WestJet’s ALPA MEC so that we can relay the facts, not rumours, to Cabin Crew Members. We will continue to keep you informed. Please do not hesitate to connect with us if you have any questions.
While ALPA is looking out for the best interests of WestJet pilots, Cabin Crew Members still do not have the same independent, legal representation. Cabin Crew Members need to certify with CUPE now more than ever. Help bring this campaign over the finish line. Reply to this e-mail to request more cards to sign up your friends and co-workers.