(Pictured Jamie Mote YYC, Karen Berry YVR, Sherwin Antonio YYC, Mark Enns YVR)

Joining Unifor

Last week the Unifor Bargaining Committee members from Local 531 WestJet YVR and YYC were on hand to chat with WestJetters from YYZ. These conversations helped bring several issues to the forefront. We want to take the time to talk about some of the common questions raised.

For some WestJetters, you may have been a member of a union before, and for others, this would be your first time being a union member. It is essential to recognize that people’s experience with unions differs, but they all have the common goal of improving their workplaces.

We have heard from some people who felt their experience of being unionized in the airline sector didn’t provide all the gains they wanted. It is essential to acknowledge they were working for a third-party ground handler and not employed directly by the airline. These workers get caught up with contract flipping, a means of churning labour by employers to keep wages and benefits artificially low.

Unifor has been at the forefront in calling for the government to ban contract flipping.

As union members employed directly with the airline, you are in a much stronger position than those who face the risk of contract flipping. Unionized workers will always have more protection and improved working conditions than non-union workers, but we see more significant gains when there is no risk of contract flipping. 

How do you negotiate a collective agreement?

Collective bargaining is all about fairness—fair treatment for you, your co-workers and your family.  Our jobs depend on healthy companies; we strive to negotiate deals that are fair to the employer, as well.

Collective bargaining gives you and your co-workers a voice in the workplace as you negotiate an agreement that sets out the rules for your relationship with the employer. It gives you a degree of certainty and predictability in your working life that is not possible without a union.

WestJetters, elected as members of the Unifor Bargaining Committee in YVR and YYC are currently in week three of negotiating a collective agreement with WestJet management. They look forward to having YYZ and YEG join them at the negotiating table to ensure the voices of all bases are part of this historic moment.

How much are union dues?

Union dues are how workers pool their resources to defend their collective interests. With dues from its members, Unifor provides a high level of professional and quality service at the local and national levels.

Union dues are 1.35% or $1.35 for every $100.00. Union dues are 100% tax-deductible. You will not pay any union dues until you ratify your first collective agreement.

The AEA and WestJet will make much of the fact that you do not pay dues to the AEA. All we can say about that is, you get what you pay for.

How can the union protect me from outsourcing?

A collective agreement, or contract, is a legally binding agreement between a union and an employer. A clause in your collective agreement can prohibit your employer from outsourcing jobs and in some cases, we are able to bring work back that was previously lost.

Under the watch of the AEA, Onex WestJet outsourced thousands of your fellow WestJetters as a cost-saving measure. The threat of outsourcing jobs is a real risk for workers without a collective agreement.

As recently as March 2, 2021, Ed Sims is on record.
(Watch the full video here)

"I mentioned that we dropped from fourteen thousand down to about four thousand staff. We have outsourced our airports, all but our four major hub airports, and we’ve outsourced a lot of our contact centre support work and closed contact centres."

“I would argue we’ve had outsourced suppliers in the US for the last 15 years while we’ve been operating to the US with no detriment to our net promotor score whatsoever.”

“So, I think there are services where provided you work closely enough with your contractor partners, there is absolutely no dichotomy in your brand proposition, and your brand delivery and those are areas worth exploring.”

With a union, you are not alone when your employer tries to change your employment terms and conditions. As part of a union, you have a real voice in the workplace.

If you haven’t talked to your co-workers at YYZ and YEG, let them know they can sign a Unifor Membership card today. It is time for them to join you at the bargaining table; they can do this at join.unifor.org/federalcard

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