Unifor Local 531 Membership Update – Winter Weather XROP Update #2

Good morning WestJetters,

It has been a very difficult and trying week for everyone across the WestJet network.  Our members in YVR, YYC and YYZ have suffered long, exhausting days that have tested your mental and physical health. We have heard about how so many of you are working 12-16 hours without breaks and how you have braved the elements to get yourselves safely to and from your airports. We are so incredibly proud to represent such a resilient, caring, and selfless group of people.  You are warriors!

Karen was on a call this afternoon with the leadership team and Diederik Pen, COO. They are very concerned about our guests being stranded, our crews who can’t get where they need to be and the stress on our front-line teams.  It was a very difficult decision to cancel as many flights as they did, but the operation and our people need a break and a reset.  Being in that Teams call, Karen truly can say that the ELT is taking this very seriously and this decision was not easy, but it makes the most sense.  There are over 240 flights cancelled between tonight and Friday across our network.  They know that the media and guests will not be kind to us because of this but it’s the right decision to make for the safety of our employees and guests.  They are very, very thankful for the work you all are doing, and they stressed the importance on safety.  If you need a hotel room because you’ve worked too many hours, are fatigued or it’s not safe to travel home, please know you will be reimbursed.  Same goes for a taxi or a carshare. 

Karen was also in discussions about additional compensation for front line staff and will be working with WestJet leaders to ensure this compensation is fair for the stress and heartache you’ve all been through.  We hope to have another update for you in the coming days on what this will look like.

The message we want to stress to our members is Be Safe. Please ensure you are taking care of yourself.  If it is too dangerous for you to drive to work, make alternate arrangements. This could be arranging to stay in a hotel close to the airport, carpooling with co-workers who have 4-wheel drive and snow tires, or staying home.  If you do head into work, ensure you have a full tank of gas and bring an emergency kit with you.  It’s a good idea to have extra washer fluid, a warm blanket, some food, and water, as well as warm clothes (hat, mitts, coat) and a well charged cell phone. 

Lastly, we would like to ensure our members have the correct information.  On Tuesday we released an update that outlined the language agreed upon in the Collective Agreement on Union Recognition and Scope Work. The CBA has language in it that protects the work that the people who are covered by the Agreement, perform in our airports.  During regular, day to day operations if anyone outside of the Collective Agreement performs the tasks or duties of our Members, it would be considered a violation of the CBA.  However, your Unifor Executive Board and WestJet leaders agreed that this language would not apply in such extreme situations such as this week.  We have not stopped anyone from lending a hand in our airports, effective Tuesday morning. 

Be kind to each other and take care of yourselves. If you have questions, please reach out to us.

Karen Berry, President
[email protected]
(705) 828-7795

Mark Enns, Secretary-Treasurer
[email protected]

Breanne Laihow, YVR District Chair [email protected]

Sherwin Antonio, YYC District Chair [email protected]
(403) 660-7154

Jagreet Sandhu [email protected]
(403) 671-5555

Elaine Keras
[email protected]

Kara Jahn, Communications Officer [email protected]
(778) 960-0933

For General Inquires or you are not sure who you should contact, please email us at [email protected]


In Solidarity, 

Karen, Mark, Breanne, Sherwin, Elaine, Kara, and Jagreet