Release #: WJA 23.04
May 08, 2023
WestJet Pilots Picket Nationwide as Negotiations Continue to Stall
Pilots Fight for North American Industry-Standard Contract
CALGARY, ALB.—WestJet pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), were joined today by ALPA president Capt. Jason Ambrosi and ALPA Canada president Capt. Tim Perry for a nationwide informational picket in Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto. Days before the possibility of pilots taking legal job action or facing a lockout by WestJet management, hundreds of WestJet pilots, along with support from fellow pilots from airlines across North America, sent a strong message to management that they are committed to reaching an agreement on a North American industry-standard contract.
“Our goal remains the same as when negotiations began last year—to reach an agreement that provides job security and career progression for our pilots and stability to the airline,” said Capt. Bernard Lewall, WestJet ALPA Master Executive Council (MEC) chair. “The time is now for WestJet management to finally come to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith with our pilot group.”
WestJet management has repeatedly touted its growth strategy; however, the airline is hemorrhaging pilots at the rate of over 30 per month. On average, a WestJet Group pilot leaves the company every 18 hours in search of a better work opportunity.
“It is well known that WestJet currently has a pilot attraction and retention problem. Those of us here today are fighting to change that,” said Ambrosi. “Our goal is secure a contract that will help make this airline a career destination for pilots once again.”
“We want to continue being a major contributor to WestJet’s success and help our company recognize its growth strategy,” said Perry, who flies for WestJet. “However, in order to do that WestJet management needs to have a realistic understanding of today’s labour market, consistent with collective agreements other ALPA-represented pilot groups are signing with their employers.”
Flight disruptions are never an ideal outcome for any pilot or its passengers, and ALPA remains committed to the bargaining process, making the union’s negotiators available 24/7 during the 21-day cooling-off period. However, on May 13, the pilots are prepared to file a 72-hour strike notice and expect the possibility of being in a legal position to commence job action on May 16, should management continue to stall negotiations.
Visit westjetpilots.com for current developments. Any passengers who have booked flights on WestJet Airlines from May 16 onward may wish to contact the airline directly to find out about the refund policy should a disruption in service take place.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents more than 69,000 pilots at 39 airlines in the United States and Canada, including the approximately 1,800 WestJet pilots. Learn more about the WestJet pilots’ journey for their contract at http://westjetpilots.com/ or follow the MEC on Twitter @WestJetALPA and Facebook @WestJetPilots.
CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or Media@alpa.org