Photo By ALPA
On May 8, 2018, while WestJet was introducing a new livery, more than 100 WestJet pilots, joined by other professional airline pilots from across the industry, lined the sidewalks of the WestJet Airlines campus for their first-ever informational picket to demand that WestJet management get serious about concluding the pilots’ contract negotiations. Shareholders entering the annual general meeting today were greeted by the picketing pilots who highlighted, among other things, that WestJet management must offer a fair contract that recognizes the real value the pilots bring to the airline.
“Today, ALPA pilots stand together to show our resolve for a fair contract that puts WestJet pilots in line with our peers at other airlines,” said Capt. Rob McFadyen, chairman of WestJet’s ALPA Master Executive Council (MEC), during today’s rally. “It is time to show management that this pilot group is not content with substandard wages and working conditions or the outsourcing of our jobs. We will fight for a contract with fair pay, reasonable work rules, and real job security.”
The informational picket comes near the end of the pilots’ strike authorization vote, which closes this Thursday, May 10, and a statutory 21-day cooling-off period, which ends May 18. If an agreement is not reached by May 18, the parties would be released to self-help, which could include a strike by the pilots. In the meantime, as McFadyen explained, the pilots hope to avoid taking job action.
After eight months of negotiations, including a 60-day conciliation period, the parties remain far apart on many issues, particularly those dealing with working conditions, compensation, and job security.
“We strongly believe that the WestJet pilots who built this airline must be flying WestJet airplanes, which includes Swoop. The company simply cannot outsource our jobs,” said McFadyen. “It’s time for Mr. [Ed] Sims [WestJet CEO] to join us at the table and conclude this negotiation.”
“We remain available 24/7 and expect to continue negotiating during the remainder of the voting process and the 21-day cooling off period,” Capt. McFadyen continued. “After the strike authorization vote announcement, management added 14 days to negotiate with us at the table. However, we have a lot of ground to cover that can only be accomplished if management comes to the table prepared to seriously address our open issues.”
ALPA will keep the public informed of any developments toward reaching a contract up until the strike deadline.