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Local 531 – WestJet YYC and YVR Membership Update August 29, 2022

As we approach the implementation date of our very first Collective Agreement on September 1st, 2022, we would like to thank everyone for their support in this journey of unionizing our workplaces.  In 2018, a small group of workers at WestJet, began the process to organize workers to work together to gain a collective, powerful voice. It took a lot of bravery, hard work and commitment but here we are, 4 years later improving the lives of our coworkers.  Through Unionizing, we have had the ability to negotiate from a position of strength with WestJet over wages, benefits, workplace health and safety, fair scheduling practices and other work-related issues. 

On September 1st, we will see the agreement come into place except for some items which will take a few months for the Company to implement. We ask for understanding, respect and grace as both our local leadership and our bargaining committee learn to live in this new world.  Mistakes will be made by both teams, and we ask for your patience while we get used to our new roles. However, the Collective Agreement is to be following and if you find yourself in a situation that it has not been, please bring it to the Bargaining Committee for review. 

We encourage all members to read the agreement thoroughly and ask questions to your Bargaining Committee.  We know it’s a long, sometimes hard read, so committing to reading and learning a section every couple days will better equip you with the tools you will need going forward.

If you attended the ratification meetings, you would have a paper copy of the agreement.  We also sent out a copy in an email, early August. There are still a limited number of paper copies available.  In YYC, the extra copies are in the Owners Lounge underneath the bulletin board.  You can contact Sherwin Antonio if you need assistance finding them.  In YVR, there is a box under the table in the lunchroom by the YVR Base bulletin board.  Just a reminder that copies are not the final agreement, as editing is required; articles needed to be numbered, grammar and spelling corrected to ensure it is 100% accurate.  We will let everyone know when that is completed, and a copy will be available to pick up. 

Questions and Answers

In our last update, August 15th, we had a few Questions and Answers for the Members.  Since that update, there have been a few developments which we want to share with you.

Relief Work in a Non-Bargaining Unit, Non-Management Role

From the August 12th, 2022 Update

Q: There has been a job posting for a relief position not covered by the Collective Agreement.  Am I able to apply for it?

A: The Bargaining Committee did propose language to the Company in collective bargaining that would permit union members to do non-union work on a relief basis.  We proposed parameters under which this could be accommodated but unfortunately, the Company was not in agreement with allowing this to be done. Therefore, if there is a job posting in a relief capacity outside of the collective agreement, unionized employees would not be able to apply for it.  There is language in our agreement that covers temporary postings and ad-hoc opportunities.

Since publishing this, we have been in discussions with WestJet Labour Relations to possibly come to an agreement and have language supporting our Members being able to apply for this type of Relief work.  We will update you when we have more information. 

Part Time and Casual Vacation Pay

From the August 12th, 2022 Update

Q: With part time and casuals now being paid out their vacation pay on each pay cheque, what happens to my current 2022 Vacation Pay?

A: While we are still awaiting an official response from the company, the Union has proposed that the remainder of 2022 in terms of vacation pay (requesting pay outs at the employees choosing) to remain in effect with the balance being paid out at the years end. We should have a confirmed answer for everyone shortly. As per the collective agreement, 2023 will find part time and casual employees have their accrued vacation pay paid out each pay period.

It has been confirmed that Part-Time and Casual employees will continue to accrue vacation pay until December 31, 2022.  The remaining balance in your vacation bank will be paid out at that time as well.  Beginning January 1st, vacation pay will be paid out each pay period. Please refer to Article – Vacation and Statutory Holidays, 1.10 for more information if you require it. 

NEW Q: If I am asked to bridge a Swoop aircraft, or speak to Swoop passengers, am I permitted to do so?

A: The simple answer is No.  Leadership cannot ask WestJetters in YVR and YYC to perform any duties relating to Swoop. In our Union Recognition Article, we did propose language that would allow us to include Swoop in Scope of work, but the Company ultimately disagreed. In YYC, there has been instances of Duty Managers telling employees that anyone who is bridge trained can bridge a Swoop aircraft if necessary. This has been corrected by the Labour Relations team and moving forward, this should not be requested of our members. If you are asked to perform any work relating to Swoop, members need to refuse the work and inform Unifor. 

NEW Q: The Collective Agreement refers to Voluntary Time Off in the scheduling language.  Is Employee Requested VTO Prior to Schedule Bid the same thing as our current RDO process? 

A: Yes.  To simplify language and processes, the Bargaining Team and the Company have identified 3 different types of Voluntary Time Off:

  1. Day off VTO based on staffing requirements for the operation and processed on a first come first served basis
  2. Company Offered VTO Prior to Schedule Bid granted by seniority within status and positions
  3. Employee Requested VTO Prior to a Schedule Bid (formally known as RDOs)

The new VTO process will remain similar to the previous RDO process in that it will be on a one year rolling basis and each employee will have 12 a year to request.  Just like the RDO program, VTOs are not guaranteed days off. The biggest change to the process is that VTOs do not need to be made up in your averaging period. Granting of VTOs will be the same as the RDO process; requests for identical time off in the same position is granted in order of time stamp.  The only exception to this is Christmas Day and New Years Day; those will be processed in order of Seniority.

Another type of Employee Requested VTO is the Company removing an employees pooled shift out of the pool prior to the shift start time. If one or more employee has pooled their shifts, the removal of the shift will be based on operational needs, in seniority order. The company must advise the employee in writing that their shift has been removed from the pool and once those hours have been removed, no additional hours may be added to the Employees schedule that day.       

Congratulations to YYZ on their Bargaining Team!

We would like to extend our congratulations to YYZ WestJetters on their election of their Bargaining Team. We look forward to working with you in the near future!

Bargaining Team Schedule

Your YYC and YVR Bargaining Team members including Karen, Breanne, Mark, Sandeep, Sherwin and Jamie are all taking time from our airport positions to support our members, implement the CBA and organize the structure of our Local.  We all have scheduled hours throught the week to complete these tasks and will also be working some Airport shifts.  Email us at [email protected] if you have any questions or issues that arise throught your day.  We will always try to answer promptly. 

Together, We Fly.

In solidarity, Local 531 Bargaining Team
Karen, Breanne, Mark, Sandeep, Lindsay, Sherwin and Jamie