We are lucky in Canada to have, compared with many countries, pretty decent labour laws. They could be better, for sure, but we have laws that govern such things as health and safety, overtime, hours of work, vacations, paid holidays, and more.

But those laws are only as good as the ability to enforce them. The same goes for workplace rules within a company or promises made by the employer on how it will conduct its business and treat workers.

On their own, workers can be unwilling or unable to enforce rules or laws they feel have been broken by the employer. How many times have you seen a co-worker take on added hours without claiming overtime, for example? How often have you felt pressure to do so yourself?

The ongoing legal case brought by Guest Service Ambassadors (GSA) in Vancouver is evidence of that. The GSAs have hired a law firm to press their case that WestJet, with the compliance of the Airports Employee Association (AEA), has failed to follow the layoff process prescribed by law. Unifor has appealed to the Labour Minister to address the complaint, and we await a decision.

With a union, on the other hand, labour laws become part of your collective agreement. That means, through your union, that you can address any violations of the law, including filing a grievance over the issue if need be. There is no need for workers to take on the cost and risk of a lawsuit or to hire their own lawyers. Unifor has an entire legal department to handle such things.

The rules of your workplace are set out in the collective agreement itself, and are fully grievable. Any promises made by the company can also be enforced through the union.

Unifor is a member-driven union. That means the way your Local works with the employer to settle disputes over interpretations of the collective agreement and relevant legislation is determined by you. You will elect the Local leadership that deals most directly with the employer.

Without a union, you are alone when you try to ensure the employer works according to the laws and rules governing your workplace. As part of a union, you have a real voice in the workplace.

The AEA will try to tell you that you do not need a real union. The truth is that the AEA has no real strength or voice in the workplace, and cannot hold the employer to account if it does not act fairly or tries to change your working conditions arbitrarily.

We are watching this unfold currently as so many WestJetters seek outside legal help in an effort to avoid bad severance deals negotiated by the AEA with Onex WestJet.

You can help gain a voice in the workplace by clicking the Join Unifor button above and filling out the online membership card. Please also share this email with co-workers and encourage them to join.

If you have any questions about what a Unifor contract can do for you in such difficult times, or any other questions, please reach out to one of your organizers.

Billy O'Neill, Unifor
[email protected] | 416-605-1443

Ada Zampini, Unifor
[email protected] | 514-701-6227

Bruce Fafard, Unifor
[email protected] | 587-341-0945

British Columbia
Simon Lau, Unifor
[email protected] | 778-928-9630

Patrick Murray, Unifor
[email protected] | 506-850-7996



Unifor is a Canadian union with a modern, inclusive approach to serving members and improving our workplaces and communities. // Unifor est un syndicat canadien qui a une approche moderne et inclusive pour servir ses membres et améliorer nos lieux de trav