WestJet and Unifor Local 531 have ratified a new CBA to prevent a strike by 800 customer service agents and baggage handlers in Calgary and Vancouver.
The deal was approved by members Thursday night with more than 70 percent of the vote.
“This agreement demonstrates WestJet’s commitment to its employees, the long-term success of the airline and the communities we serve,” said Angela Avery, WestJet executive vice president and chief people, corporate and sustainability officer in a statement. press.
This was the first collective bargaining agreement between the Calgary-based airline and the union, since the employees organized in May 2021, they had been negotiating since October. The CBA becomes effective on September 1 and will expire on December 31, 2026.
The deal resulted in an increased pay scale, better benefits, and a clearly defined scope of work for employees, all big wins for members.
“It has been nine months at the negotiating table, but we are very pleased to have reached an agreement and we will continue to build a relationship with WestJet,” said Scott Doherty, chief negotiator and executive assistant to the national president of Unifor.
The seven-year pay scale hadn’t improved in the past five years, stagnating at $15.50 to $23 an hour. The deal has new hires starting at $16.60 and a maximum of around $27 an hour, it also has raises built in over the life of the four-year deal, as well as anniversary raises.
Doherty said this will help address the airline’s challenges in recruiting for these positions.
“Airlines and airports have trouble hiring and keeping people, and WestJet is committed to ensuring that people fill those positions and that they are properly staffed,” he said. “I think with the collective agreement in place, we’re confident that we’re going to be able to get people to come work there now that they know there’s something to work for, a pretty decent salary after three or four years. .”
There are also guarantees from WestJet around subcontracting and if necessary it will come from union members.
WestJet has never had a strike interruption service.
The union announced on July 20 that its members had voted 98 percent in favor of striking if an agreement between the two parties could not be reached by July 24. If they had not reached an agreement, they could have left work on Wednesday. . Late on Sunday, the two sides reached an agreement in principle and it was ratified on Thursday night.