Thank you to everyone who participated in the telephone town hall on Wednesday.
If you missed the call, and you want to hear it. You can listen to a recording on line here: https://soundcloud.com/user-723336476/cupe-local-4070-westjet-flight-attendants-telephone-town-hall-october-3-2018
There were a lot of excellent questions asked both in the call itself, and in the recordings by individual members that didn’t make it to the call. We will try to answer some of those questions here.
Note: We’ve edited some of the questions for clarity and brevity.
LINDA: Does CUPE have any input on the selection of 787/widebody Flight Attendants?
At this time, CUPE has very little input into this issue. CUPE’s position is that with minor training, all Flight Attendants are qualified to work on all flights, regardless of the airplane model. We believe all staff should have equal opportunity to bid on these flights, with details to be worked out after consultation with members.
Until there is a new contract in place, WestJet has the right to have a separate system for selecting Flight Attendants for separate airplane models. MOU #14 of the Cabin Crew Agreement foresees this issue and gives WestJet the ability to implement the flight selection model they are currently using.
LISE ANNE: Is it true we will have to pay back pay from the time CUPE was voted in? Do I have to save up for that?
Normally dues are not retroactive. However, until the Local executive is elected and engage in consultation with CUPE National and members, the structure is unknown.
JENNIFER: What will the role of our PSM and CSLs look like moving forward? If you have an issue with scheduling or childcare would you call your shop steward or your PSM?
If you have an issue with any manager or supervisor, it is always best to try to sort it out with them first. Even with a collective agreement in place, managers have the right to manage.
If a manager makes a decision that you feel is in contravention of part of the collective agreement or a WestJet policy, and you are unable to resolve the matter by talking to the manager, then you can talk about it with a shop steward and decide if more action is necessary.
CALLER: Will these negotiations and bargaining have any possible effect in our future profit share and investing into our company shares?
Any and all wages and benefits can be negotiated between a union and employer, and our situation at WestJet is no different. That does not mean that profit sharing has to go. The bargaining committee, acting on the surveys that members fill out about their priorities can choose to raise these issues, try to keep the status quo, or make any changes at the bargaining table.
LESLEY: As a cabin manager, I have signed a card, but there is no ruling. Do we have a right to vote on the bylaws, or do we have to abstain?
CUPE is honoring the CCMs and OOTs who sign membership cards until there is a ruling. You have a right to vote on bylaws, elections and all other union business for now.
However, there is some confusion on our lists, as WestJet is not including employees in these positions in the contact information they give CUPE. If you are a member and have not received a ballot to vote on the bylaws, please contact Acting Returning Officer Lou Arab at email@example.com
RYLEY: What is the minimum percentage that the dues have to be?
CUPE National has a per capita dues rate of 0.85% of earnings. So dues will have to be at least that much, with an added amount for the local to manage bargaining, grievance handling, and other matters. Most other airline locals have their dues set at 1.5% of earnings (which includes the 0.85 going to the National Union).
MAUREEN: I have a question regarding stock options. There are rumours that we will lose our employee share purchase plan. Can you answer that? Are there other airlines with stock options for Flight Attendants? Our health benefits are not very good for what we pay, is this something CUPE can address, or is it something that is totally WestJet related? When it comes to retiring, when there is a buyout, is that something that CUPE handles, or is it something that just WestJet handles?
Those are a lot of questions! There is no reason to believe Flight Attendants will lose stock options. See the answer to that question above.
Health benefits are something CUPE can help with. A union can try to negotiate a better range of benefits, the share paid for by employees vs. paid by the employer, and we can also negotiate which carrier is chosen. All of this has to be agreed by WestJet. As the largest union in Canada, we have a lot of experience with insurance companies and plans, so we may be able to suggest better carriers for WestJet to use, some of whom may be able to offer better value and service.
After a collective agreement is in place, WestJet will have to honour any provisions in it about retirement, layoffs and/or dismissals. This is something that can be negotiated.
STEPHANIE: I’m a part time flight attendant, I’ve heard rumours that we might lose part time status in the contract. Can I just voice that right now that the option for part time status remain in our contract?
While the bargaining committee (after broad consultation with members) will decide what issues it wishes to take to the bargaining table, it seems unlikely we would try to eliminate part time positions. It also seems unlikely WestJet would take that position. CUPE has a large number of part-time members in airlines and a broad range of other sectors.
BRANDON: Was CUPE consulted by the Occupational Health and Safety Committee when they removed jump seats from our 800 series aircraft? Many FA do not feel safe on these aircraft when they are sold out. Was CUPE able to voice our concerns about this?
We know of the situation, and we share your concerns. We are looking into this.
JANET: How do I become involved at the committee level?
Glad to hear your interest. If the proposed bylaws are passed, committees will be elected. We will send more information out about how to put your name forward in the future.
LAURENCE: If we pay the $5.00 and become a member. From the call, it seems those who do not pay the $5.00 will get the benefits. Will non-members still have to pay the dues?
Yes, non-members have to pay the dues check off. In exchange, they receive all the benefits of a collective agreement and CUPE will represent them in grievances or other HR dealings with WestJet. However, non-members have no ability for input or voting in the local structure.
KIM: What is the definition of seniority. I’ve been at WestJet for almost 14 years, but only been a flight attendant for three. Will my years of service be portable?
Every collective agreement has a different definition of seniority. So, this is a matter for bargaining.
KRISTEN: My question is concerning the widebody flying: A lot of us were hesitant to apply because we have very little information on what it will entail. Some of us have applied and been interviewed, but there is little communication about what the flying will be like. I’d just like to know what I am getting myself into?
At this point CUPE has as much information as employees on this issue.
Voting on the bylaws is open now until 6:00 pm MDT October 10th. All signed up CUPE members who have paid the $5.00 initiation fee have the right to vote. This includes CCMs and OOTs. If you have not received an email to vote on the proposed bylaws, and you believe you should have, please contact Acting Returning Officer Lou Arab at firstname.lastname@example.org.