The recent changes announced at WestJet have shown the value of having a collective agreement in place. Workers at WestJet Onex need to ensure they protect themselves from more changes in the future by joining Unifor and negotiating terms and conditions of employment.

The AEA and the CCEA are not up to the job of protecting your rights as workers. They sat by and watched as Onex announced:

  • Outsourcing all airport work, except for Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto
  • Eliminating and consolidating all contact centres into Calgary
  • Outsourcing guest service work such as wheelchair work and meet/assist capacity
  • Outsourcing TAC work at YYC and YYZ

All in all, this represents the vast majority of the 3,333 employees who will be permanently leaving WestJet. What is also important and may have been overlooked in Ed Sim’s Youtube video is his reference to future cost reductions.

His reference to technological changes such as “Touch-free experience technology at the airports” and “New technology at contact centres to enhance response time and reduce queue times” remains a considerable risk to the jobs of remaining WestJet staff.

What this often means is either more automation, demanding more efficiency from workers, or both. Your best protection is a union and a collective agreement addressing scope work, technological changes, monitoring and measurement, and recall rights.

  • Scope work

    Scope work explicitly and clearly defines the job description of each unionized position such as Customer Service Agents, Contact Centre Agents, Lead agents, etc. This ensures greater job security by preventing management from contracting out individual jobs. Any disputes can be legally grieved when workers are represented by a legal Union. Unifor has had much success in bargaining future work into scope. This is part of Unifor’s Good Jobs Revolution that tries to protect good union jobs from being done by third party companies.
  • Technological changes

    While technological change is not unique to WestJet, what is different is that a union can negotiate specific language in a collective agreement that will allow new technology to compliment workers rather than replacing them. At Air Canada, for instance, our collective agreement states that

    • “The Company shall provide the above representatives with materials pertaining to technological change which may be required to ensure that the fullest discussion will take place on such matters as retraining, filling of jobs created by technology, change of work methods, reorganization of work, change to the method of organization, etc., so as to ensure the change is implemented with the least possible disruption and with the maximum possible benefits to the Company and the employees.”
  • Monitoring and Measurement

    The purpose of monitoring and measurement language in a collective agreement is to ensure that the measurement of workers’ performance is realistic and attainable.

    Furthermore, it ensures that it is fairly and equitably applied to all workers. This will set up all workers to succeed. Under a unionized environment, management and union representatives will meet regularly to evaluate whether these goals are met.

    • “It is agreed that a Joint Review Board consisting of management and designated representatives of the Union, will meet at the headquarters level as often as required: to review, on an ongoing basis, the utilization of monitoring and measurement equipment and processes currently being used or being considered for use in the future.” (Air Canada contract)

  • Recall Rights

    Recall rights guarantees that if a unionized employee is laid-off, their job will be protected over a defined time period. In other words, the company cannot hire a new employee for your position until your laid-off status is rescinded and is recalled back to work at your existing wage rate.

    These are just a few of the benefits that come with a collective agreement. To find out more, or to sign a Unifor membership card, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of your organizers. You can also click on the button above to sign a Unifor card online now.

    Act now before it's too late, sign a Unifor membership card and talk to your coworkers about the urgency to participate in your future.

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