Dear CUPE supporters,
Recently, WestJet copied and pasted a number of questions about what signing a union card will mean for WestJet and WestJet Encore Cabin Crew into an email. Often, employers hire union-busting consulting firms to design a communications strategy to convince employees not to join the union, despite your Charter protected right to join a union of your choice. We know you are more than capable of making an informed decision on your own, and don’t need to be told what to think or ask by your employer.
But, as always, CUPE is happy to answer these and any other questions you may have.
What will it cost me to join CUPE?
Government-required application fee:
In federally regulated sectors such as transportation, the Canada Industrial Relations Board Regulations require that each applicant for membership in a trade union “has paid at least five dollars to the trade union for or within the six-month period immediately before the date on which the application was filed.” This is why when you sign your CUPE membership card, there is a requirement to pay $5.
Union dues are the way workers who have decided to form a union pool their resources to enable the work of the union. Dues give you access to all of CUPE’s services and benefits, like handling grievances at arbitration, educational programs, research, job evaluation, health and safety experts, pension specialists, equality advocates, lawyers, and professional staff. We believe that a percentage solution is the most fair and equitable as part-time employees would only pay the percentage of hours actually worked. CUPE locals must collect a minimum of 0.85 per cent of base wages in dues. Beyond that level, you will have a vote in deciding how much you will pay in dues and how your local spends its funds. For most new locals, members pay between one and two cents for each dollar they earn in regular wages. Your union dues are entirely tax deductible. You can find more information about union dues on the CUPE WestJet website.
Everyone who benefits from a union contract pays union dues.
The Rand Formula is a feature of Canadian labour law that dates back to a Supreme Court Decision in 1946. WestJet should know this. Justice Rand decided that union dues should be paid by all those who benefit form the union contract, not just signed members of the union. All members of the union benefit from the wages and benefits negotiated in their collective agreement, the professional representation provided by the union, and other benefits of membership. Both the Rand Formula and the union’s duty of fair representation to all employees in the bargaining unit form part of the Canada Labour Code.
What will I get?
Only with a union can you get a Collective Agreement – a legally-binding and enforceable contract. A Collective Agreement contains any terms and condition that are agreed upon by the union and the employer. Provisions may include pay, shift premiums, vacations, scheduling, job postings, job security, benefit plans, uniform allowances, sick leave, leaves of absence, access to personnel files, disciplinary procedures and more. It ensures that everyone receives equal treatment by the employer and an accountability process if the agreement is violated. You will also have access to CUPE’s skilled professional staff and lawyers with expertise in communications, research, education, health and safety and pay equity.
The CUPE advantage is clear. Pay for ground delays and layovers. Longer rest periods for longer flights. Clearly established rules to address pay cheque discrepancies. Higher starting hourly wages and higher pay for Cabin Crew Leaders. Footwear and dry-cleaning allowances. Better retirement security through employer-contribution pension plans. “No layoff” provisions. Minimum compliment language. These are provisions that CUPE has successfully negotiated in the airline sector year after year for over thirty years. CUPE is Canada’s leading Flight Attendant union, with more than 11,500 airline members nationwide and a long and proud track record of achieving the best contracts in the industry. Read the comparator chart here.
What are the risks?
A Collective Agreement contains any terms and condition that are agreed upon by the union and the employer. Your local union will undergo a democratic process of identifying what conditions of employment are most important to you to prioritize in collective bargaining with the employer. In the Federal sector, unlike some provinces, ratification votes are not mandated by statute. Ratification votes are not necessary unless mandated by internal CUPE constitution/bylaws.
The risk of remaining non-union is that you will not have access to the process of collective bargaining. Without a union, each employee has to negotiate their own wages and working conditions on an individual basis with their employer. Without a union, there is no legal requirement for an employer to bargain. With a union, you have access to a grievance process if an employer attempts to unilaterally change terms and conditions of employment agreed to.
CUPE has worked with our members to successfully bargain provisions for switching and trading shifts according to a clearly outlined, fair process without management favouritism playing a key role as to whether or not your trade is approved.
Strikes are incredibly rare, but the decision on whether or not to take job action is always decided by your local through a secret ballot vote. Going on strike is a last resort. The ability to collectively withdrawal services at an impasse is one tool that unionized workers have to promote equality in the bargaining process. There is no law that prevents union members from crossing their co-workers picket line. In the event of a strike or lockout, workers who cross the picket line undermine the union’s fight for a fair deal and prolong the job action.
You will elect your co-workers to serve as your representatives on the bargaining committee for your first Collective Agreement. You will also elect a local union executive committee. All members of the local union decide at regular local meetings on issues that are important to them. Each CUPE local decides its priorities for bargaining, when to settle a new contract, and how to manage funds.
There is no reason that your relationship with your manager has to change. Management can continue to have an open-door policy and various avenues for feedback in a unionized workplace. Communication between the Employer and workers is not limited to union representatives. Managers that genuinely care about Cabin Crew Members will respect CCMs’ Charter right to join a union of their choice.
Can you put what you are saying in writing with your name and signature?
Absolutely! Here you go 🙂
Your CUPE-WestJet Organizing Committee
PS – To clarify management’s misleading comments on the certification process for WestJetters, in federally regulated sectors like airlines, the Canada Labour Code permits card check certification. This is the most democratic union certification process because it requires that a majority of workers (50%+1) must sign union membership cards in order to certify.