#FactsFriday: WestJetters deserve more than minimum, not less

hpouliot Uncategorized

They’re called “minimum” wages for a reason – because it’s the bare minimum your employer has to pay.

Which is why it’s shameful that WestJet has allegedly been underpaying Cabin Crew Members, but it’s just one more reason among many that more and more WestJetters are turning to CUPE to defend their rights and move their working conditions forward. (And we strongly encourage anyone who thinks they are being paid less than minimum wage for hours worked to contact us immediately.)

In recent months, WestJet management has set a troubling pattern of trying to get away with offering WestJetters less and less for their hard work.

Whether that’s unilateral changes to health benefits that have left Cabin Crew Members without coverage. Whether that’s introducing an ultra low-cost carrier that threatens job quality and job security for Cabin Crew Members. Whether that’s intimidation from management and the shameful termination of Cabin Crew Members on long-term disability. Or whether it’s underpaying Cabin Crew Members for the hours put in.

While WestJet management may think otherwise, CUPE believes that you, WestJetters, deserve much more than just the bare minimum. Whether it’s an issue involving health and safety, or job security, your benefits, or your compensation, CUPE is here to give you a strong voice at work and to help you continue to make your jobs better.

A fair contract and strong representation are within reach. Sign a card to join CUPE today.

Take CUPE’s latest airlines health and safety survey

hpouliot Uncategorized

Flight attendants with CUPE benefit from thirty years of health and safety expertise, and continually improving collective agreements to keep members safe at work.

Members also benefit from CUPE having a dedicated seat on the federal government’s regulatory committee on airline safety – meaning members have a direct line into important discussions that impact their safety at work. We continue to use this advantage to voice the concerns of flight attendants and to improve regulations to protect and promote their safety.

The best way for CUPE to advocate on behalf of our flight attendant members is to hear from members directly. One of the ways CUPE hears from members is through surveys, like the one below.

CUPE’s Health and Safety Branch recently sent this survey out to our nearly 12,000 flight attendant members across Canada to get their views on issues related to fatigue. With the increase in workload caused by the reduction in flight attendant-to-passenger ratios and minimal amounts of rest between flights, many CUPE flight attendants are reporting increased fatigue and concerns about its impact on performance.

Take the survey to get a firsthand look at how CUPE will work to hear directly from WestJet Cabin Crew members to bring their concerns directly to the federal government.

The survey is confidential. Though this is not an official study, CUPE will aggregate and share the data about fatigue once the study is completed.

CUPE files human rights complaint against Air Canada for systemic discrimination and harassment of flight attendants

hpouliot Uncategorized

The Air Canada Component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees has filed a human rights violation complaint against Air Canada for systemic discrimination and harassment of flight attendants.

“Our complaint states that Air Canada, through its policies, procedures and practices, fosters harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and this must stop now”, said CUPE’s Air Canada Component Vice-President Beth Mahan.

The complaint alleges that Air Canada’s policies on uniforms and makeup, including ‘modelling’ of uniforms, are clearly discriminatory towards female flight attendants on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and race.

According to the complaint, the new onboard service managers (OBSMs) also contribute to the toxic environment in many ways:

  • The OBSMs who perform in-flight assessments of flight attendants categorized as service directors are causing fear and intimidation in the workplace.
  • Many OBSMs have also made sexist, racist and homophobic remarks to and about service directors and flight attendants, and have engaged in inappropriate behaviour towards flight attendants of both sexes.
  • Many OBSM evaluations have resulted in service directors being demoted.

The complaint also asserts that Air Canada has tolerated discriminatory and harassing behaviour by managers on the ground. CUPE’s Air Canada Component decided to file a Human Rights complaint after reports of inappropriate behaviour were not dealt with appropriately by the company.

“We now turn to the Canadian Human Rights Commission since Air Canada has repeatedly failed to deal adequately with harassment and discrimination complaints by our members”, concluded Mahan.

CUPE’s Air Canada Component is asking the Canadian Human Rights Commission to order an overall review of Air Canada’s policies, procedures and practices in relation to harassment, and to eliminate the problematic OBSM program.

CUPE represents 8,500 flight attendants at Air Canada mainline and Rouge.

WestJet pilots union victory shows how CUPE can help Cabin Crew

hpouliot Uncategorized

The union representing WestJet pilots, the Air Line Pilot Association (ALPA), just scored a key victory at the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) last week, forcing WestJet to stop bypassing the union in the imminent launch of its ultra low-cost carrier, Swoop.

WestJet had been trying to bypass the pilots union in its hiring process for Swoop, so that it could hire pilots outside the union and offer them less pay and fewer benefits. ALPA argued that WestJet could not cut side deals with some pilots while ignoring the role of the union to negotiate the best terms for every pilot. On Friday the CIRB sided with the ALPA. The result is that West Jet now has to deal directly with the union when trying to hire WestJet pilots at Swoop.

It’s a key victory for WestJet pilots – and it’s an example of how WestJetters can protect their rights and working conditions when they have a union backing them.

Even without a collective agreement, WestJet pilots were able to achieve this victory because they have a union representing them now.

This could be WestJet Cabin Crew soon too. CCMs have an association now, but unlike WCCA, only a union like CUPE or ALPA has the legal standing to defend WestJetters against unfair labour practices.

With the launch of Swoop coming soon, Cabin Crew Members need the protection of a union to protect against attacks on their job security and working conditions. Sign a card to join CUPE today.

Information allowing you to make an informed decision

cbrenchley Uncategorized

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.

  1. 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:

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Can you put what you are saying in writing with your name and signature?

Absolutely! Here you go 🙂

In solidarity,

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.

Do I need to renew my CUPE membership card?

hpouliot Uncategorized

As our organizing campaign presses on, and more and more WestJet and WestJet Encore Cabin Crew sign cards to join CUPE, there are some questions around whether CUPE membership cards expire.

In fact, there is no expiry date on your card.

But the Canada Industrial Relations Board does require CUPE to collect a $5 Application Fee during the six-month period prior to an application for certification.

In other words, once CUPE is ready to file for certification for WestJet and WestJet Encore Cabin Crew, we’ll need to make sure your five dollars has been paid in the six months prior. But you can leave that part to us – we will contact you in the next little while if we need to collect another five dollars.

It’s important to remember that this money doesn’t go to CUPE – it will stay with your Local once you are certified and will be used at your Local’s discretion.

If that’s still confusing, don’t worry. You can always follow up with us directly at westjet@cupe.ca or by phone at 1-844-437-1822.

CUPE’s court challenge of the 1:50 regulation heard in Federal Court

hpouliot Uncategorized

CUPE spent two days in Federal Court this week to convince a judge that the unsafe 1:50 flight attendant-passenger ratio must be repealed. As you know, the 1:50 ratio is less safe than the safety proven 1:40 ratio. Unfortunately, Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said last October that his government has no intention to revise the 1:50 regulation. In that context, CUPE’s legal fight against the 1:50 ratio initiated in 2013 is crucial for passengers and crew safety. We are still waiting for a decision but will keep you informed.

You’re invited! Airport Blitz Day

hpouliot Uncategorized

Haven’t signed your card yet? Have questions for CUPE? Need to stock up on campaign materials? Interested in getting more involved?

Join CUPE activists at YYZ, YYC and YVR on Wednesday, February 28 from 6:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (local time zone). Let’s show our cross-base support for a stronger voice at work!

See you there.

CUPE can help protect WestJet Cabin Crew amid ULCC uncertainty

hpouliot Uncategorized

Ultra Low Cost Carriers (ULCC) like Swoop represent a race to the bottom in service quality for passengers and job conditions for workers. In order to turn a profit, Swoop must have high ancillary fees for customers, and low labour costs for workers. Here’s how it’s done.

Hidden Fees

The company has cut conventional entitlements for flying passengers and levied a fee for their access. Unexpected fees for customers flying Swoop include new charges to select a seat, to check or carry on baggage, to make a transaction through the customer contact centre, and to enjoy onboard beverages and entertainment.

ULCCs tend to make flying so unpleasant that even if a passenger opts out of the add-ons, they will eventually cave to the extra fees for increased comfort. There’s no reason to believe Swoop will be different.

Slashing Labour Costs

WestJet has said Swoop fares will be 40 per cent lower than traditional airlines, but new seats and fees alone won’t make up the difference. In order to stay profitable, ULCCs have to keep labour costs low, which means no pensions and no extended benefits for workers. Make no mistake: the only way Swoop will be profitable is if Cabin Crew Members are performing the same work, on the same planes, for lower compensation.

Job Security at Stake

WestJet’s business plans are to take planes out of the WestJet mainline fleet, give them a new paint job, cram a few more seats in, and fly these aircraft on existing mainline routes. Should Swoop expand as the company intends it to, WestJet mainline Cabin Crew Members could be displaced and potentially laid off. Worst of all? WestJet mainline workers will be used to launch the very competition that is threatening their job security.

Unions Exist to Protect Workers

In this time of uncertainty, WestJet Cabin Crew Members need the protection of a union. CUPE, through collective bargaining, can protect Cabin Crew Members by working to negotiate:

  • A collective agreement that there will be no layoffs of mainline Cabin Crew Members
  • Minimum complement contract language that prevents the employer from requiring or forcing mainline Cabin Crew Members to transfer to Swoop
  • A commitment that WestJet’s mainline will continue to grow alongside any ULCC ventures

As WestJet pushes back, support for a union continues to grow

hpouliot Uncategorized

It has come to our attention that management has sent yet another unnecessary e-mail to Cabin Crew Members as an intimidation tactic to try and quell growing support for the union. We’re sorry you have to keep reading these.

We have been receiving complaints about this behavior including confusion as to whether this is permitted management conduct under the Canada Labour Code. It is not. Section 94(1)(a) of the Code explicitly prohibits employers from intimidating or threatening any person who is encouraging others to join a union. This is law.

We appreciate that WestJet management has affirmed your freedom of expression and association. You have the right to voice your support for CUPE. In fact, we encourage our supporters to use their influence and personal networks to speak to other WestJetters about CUPE so that we can get you the genuine representation you need as quickly as possible. This is truth.

The right of employees to organize for a union is protected by law. The Canada Labour Code does not limit the right of unions and employees to organize on company premises outside of working hours, including paid breaks and rest periods.

CUPE supporters have the right to distribute, disseminate and receive information about the union, and the right to sign a membership card.

WestJet must comply with the Canada Labour Code and cannot intimidate, threaten, discipline or dismiss any WestJetter for their involvement in the union drive or support for CUPE.  CUPE has run a clean campaign and will continue to do so in the face of WestJet management’s threats and intimidation. This is fact.

If sending mass e-mails threatening its respected, dedicated, long-serving employees is reflective of WestJet’s preferred “direct relationship” with CCMs, it’s never been more clear why WestJetters need CUPE. This is reality.

Haven’t signed a card yet? Sign up here and we will send you a card in the mail today.