Happy New Year everyone! We want to express our gratitude to each and every one of you who worked tirelessly over the holiday season. We know you had to work through some very extreme challenges over the last few weeks. In an effort to express our gratitude to our members, the Executive Board of Local 531 sponsored a few events over the holidays in our Bases. In Calgary, we had an open tab at Tim Horton’s at the YYC airport for all WestJet agents on January 3rd and in Vancouver, our staff coffee machines were well stocked, and we hosted a Chili Bar.

The Winter Incentive and Recognition compensation was a result of your union at work, advocating for the membership. The double time overtime wage will end this upcoming Sunday January 8th at 0100.  This also means it will be a return to the scope language in our Collective Agreement.  After this date, anyone not covered by our CBA (GSM, HDM, ZM and managers etc.), will no longer be able to perform any of our Airport work. Scope Work language is fundamental issue for unions as it protects and advances the interests of its members.  If you experience any violation of this agreement, please reach out to the District Chairperson in your Base. Violations of this language can include (but are not limited to):

  • A GSM boarding a flight, performing document checks, making announcements at a gate
  • A Guest Experience Manager assisting with line control or guests on the kiosks
  • The Whitehatters in YYC assisting guests with kiosks
  • A HDM being a spotter for a 787 Dreamliner bridging
  • A GSM or ZM rebooking guests or using EVA to provide them with hotels
  • A HDM soliciting shift extensions
  • A BSM working the duties of a baggage agent

Your District Chair Representatives are:


Breanne Laihow

[email protected]

(778) 887-6156



Sherwin Antonio

[email protected]

(403) 660 7154

Our goal for 2023 is to have Local 531 office space in our airport bases, where your representatives will be available for face-to-face meetings and chats.  We are currently on track to have an office space secured for February in YYC and then in YVR by late spring.  We will update you when we have more details to share. Until then, Sherwin and Breanne will be spending more time at their respective bases, to connect with the Membership and listen to your concerns and questions



As a reminder to our members, you are only permitted to split a shift 2 times.  This is detailed in the Collective Agreement under Article X Scheduling, Shift Trades:

_-8.07 Partial shift trades are permitted provided that no shift is split into more than two (2) segments. No more than two (2) Employees may cover a shift. […]

For example, Amy has a shift from 0800-1800 but needs the afternoon portion of her shift covered.  Jamie is able to work 1200-1500 for her so she finds Jesse to work 1500-1800.  This is not permitted under the CBA language. Currently, there is no limitation in Staff Connect from stopping employees splitting their shifts more than 2 times; employees need to be aware and responsible for how they split their shifts. Splitting shifts multiple times causes a lot of work for our DDC and Workforce Members.  Shifts split more than 2 times will be reversed and coaching conversations up to discipline are possible if employees continue to not follow the CBA. 



The use of Canada Labour Code Personal Days has changed to be used for the care of others and will be managed outside of your sick day entitlements. This is unlike the 2022 CLC personal days, which were inclusive of you or your family members (and in turn paid from your well-being units).

As an employee, you are entitled to up to 5 days of personal leave per calendar year to: 

  • take care of health obligations for any member of your familyor care for them 
  • take care of obligations related to the education of any family member under age 18
  • manage any urgent situation that concerns you or a family member
  • attend your citizenship ceremony under the Citizenship Act, or 
  • manage any other situation prescribed by regulation 

Further information can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/jobs/workplace/federal-labour-standards/leaves.html#h2.6

Outside of 24hrs: Email your Bases’ ESA team, stating your need to access a Canada Labour Code personal day. The ESA team will code your shift with the appropriate paid or unpaid, depending on your balance of unused time.  

Inside 24hrs: You must call DDC, no later than 2 hours prior to the commencement of your shift, to notify that you will not be in. Email your Bases’ ESA team stating your need to access a Canada Labour Code personal day. The ESA team will code your shift with the appropriate paid or unpaid, depending on your balance of unused time.


On January 1, 2023, new language detailing Sick Leave for employees came into place.  In the Collective Agreement, under Article X, Leave of Absence, Sick Leave it states:

_-2.01 Paid sick leave shall be provided to an Employee who is absent from work due to a bona fide illness or injury that is not covered under the provisions of workers’ compensation legislation.

_-2.02 On January 1, 2023 only, all current Employees who were Employees in the bargaining unit on the date of ratification (*July 28, 2022*) of this Agreement shall receive an initial allotment of paid sick leave days as follows:

  1. a) Full-time Employees shall each receive an initial allotment of twelve (12) days of paid sick leave.
  2. b) Part-time and casual Employees shall each receive an initial allotment of ten (10) days of paid sick leave.

_-2.03 An Employee hired by the Company following the ratification date (*July 28, 2022*) of this Agreement shall, upon completing thirty (30) Calendar Days of continuous employment with the Company, receive an initial allotment of three (3) days of paid sick leave.

Further details on the Sick Leave policy can be found on the digital copy of the collective agreement on page 88. While we are close to having a final edited version of the CBA ready for all members, please note this copy was used during ratification and is considered unedited. 


It was very important to the Bargaining Committee ensure the Company understood how working alone during the hours of 2100 and 0600 in the airport can be a stressful and potentially dangerous time for employees. We have heard countless stories of baggage agents working alone, late at night in the baggage hall when guests arrive from their destination, but their bags do not. When our CSAs greet late inbound flights at an isolated gate and have to tell guests that they have missed the last flight of the night and hotels will not be provided because it was an uncontrollable delay, this can be a frightening and intimidating situation.  The public has increasingly gotten more and more aggressive; both physically and verbally.

Therefore, in our Collective Agreement, we developed a Letter of Understanding that Unifor would appoint 2 temporary employee representatives to the Workplace Health and Safety Committees (1 per base) for the purpose of assisting the committee’s research and prepare recommendations to the corporate Workplace Policy Committee.  The goal of the focus group is to provide recommendations for reasonable support options that will enhance the existing supports provided to Employees working alone (access to 911 and a constant, direct contact via radio to a manager)

The two representatives are Riccia Kay, GSL-B in Vancouver and Karen D’Costa-Stegemann, CSA in Calgary.  They will be joining their respective Workplace Health and Safety Committees this month to share the goals of the Working Alone Focus Group and to start collecting data and recommendations.  If you would like to get in touch with either of the members, please send them a message via their WestJet emails. 


In the coming week, we will be communicating a nomination period and the subsequent election of our Workplace Representatives (you may know them as Union Stewards). The Workplace Representatives will be elected by their peers at their respective Bases and will report to the District Chairperson at their Base (Sherwin Antonio in YYC and Breanne Laihow in YVR).  We will be electing one (1) representative per 50 members.  In Vancouver, we will be electing seven (7) reps and eleven (11) in Calgary. 

Workplace Representatives play an important role in the functioning of the union which supports the Union’s goals and Collective Agreement.  They act as the first contact within the Union for the membership.  As a Workplace Representative, you must be able to demonstrate strong leadership, communication, independence, empathy, and critical thinking skills.  Reps will need to establish trust, credibility, and a comfort level with the members to ensure they feel confident coming to you. In addition, our workplace representatives must be able to understand the diversity of the workplace including the cultural, racial, gender, LGBTQIA+, and age differences as this ensure that members know that regardless of their background, the Union is there to represent them.  It is also very important that the reps understand and recognize the importance of building effective relationships with our Leadership teams.  It will be imperative for a Workplace Representative to know their Collective Agreement and know where to find the information they need. 

After the nomination and, if required, the election period, the Workplace Representatives will receive paid Grievance Handling Training by Unifor sometime during the scheduling period of March 6 to April 30th and then will be available to members shortly after.  

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,

Unifor Local 531 Executive Board
Karen, Sherwin, Breanne, Mark, Kara, Jagreet and Elaine.