Release #: WJA 18.03
April 25, 2018
WestJet Pilots Aim to Avoid Possible May 19 Strike, but Prepare for all Outcomes
Union and Airline Still at Odds Over New Contract as Conciliation Period Ends
CALGARY—WestJet Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), announced today that they still have not reached an agreement with WestJet management on a new collective agreement after more than half a year of negotiations. With the busy summer travel season fast approaching, the end of the statutory 60-day federal conciliation period on Friday the 27th marks the beginning of a statutory 21-day cooling-off period, after which the pilots are permitted to strike.
While the WestJet Pilots aim to avoid any possible job action, the WestJet MEC did take measures today, to ensure they are prepared for any eventuality, by making the decision to call for a strike authorization ballot vote to the members of their bargaining group, for consideration.
The vote opened today, April 25, and will remain open for 15 days.
“Our bargaining proposals are reasonable and consistent with the contracts that other pilots within North America enjoy. Unfortunately, our management team believes there is no issue with outsourcing our work and our careers. They expect us to just stand in place, be grateful to work for the company we helped build, and be willing to accept terms that are substandard compared to our peers,” said Capt. Rob McFadyen, chairman of WestJet’s ALPA Master Executive Council (MEC). “Our goal remains to reach a fair contract that also brings stability to the airline.”
The parties still remain far apart on many issues, particularly in the areas of working conditions, compensation, and job security.
Although an agreement has yet to be reached, the WestJet pilot negotiators appreciate the significant efforts of the conciliation officers appointed by the Minister of Labour. Unfortunately, management only agreed to meet for 14 days of collective bargaining during the 60-day conciliation process, so the conciliators did not have sufficient time to assist the parties.
The next step is the 21-day cooling-off period, and McFadyen has emphasized that the pilots are still open to negotiating 24/7 during this period, just as they were during the conciliation process. The pilots hope to avoid taking job action, which could include a strike.
ALPA will keep the public informed of any developments toward reaching a contract up until the strike deadline.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents more than 60,000 pilots at 34 airlines in the United States and Canada, including the approximately 1,500 WestJet pilots and approximately 500 WestJet Encore pilots as well as pilots at Air Georgian, Air Transat, Bearskin, Calm Air, Canadian North, First Air, Jazz Aviation, Kelowna Flightcraft, and Wasaya.
CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or Media@alpa.org