Unionized WestJet workers in Calgary and Vancouver reached a tentative agreement with the airline over the weekend, avoiding interruptions to WestJet service that could have come as early as this week.
Unifor Local 531 represents nearly 800 baggage service agents, customer service agents and guest service leads in Calgary and Vancouver airports after being certified in May of 2021.
Bargaining began in October 2021, and Unifor Local 531 filed for conciliation with the Canadian government on April 26, 2022.
As Open Jaw reported 22JUL, the union issued a notice to strike as early as 27JUL. The possible job action loomed as Canada’s recovering air industry remains chaotic, plagued by staff shortages, airport delays and lineups, unprecedented baggage issues, and frustrated pax.
“We are burnt out,” said Sherwin Antonio, member of the Local 531’s Calgary Bargaining Committee. The union was demanding better pay as well as for WestJet to relieve workers from what they call a “pressure cooker atmosphere.”
While details of the new agreement reached on 24JUL were not revealed in the union's media release, the union addressed both major concerns when it announced the tentative agreement.
"This bargaining committee has worked very hard over the last nine months to negotiate this first agreement that brings long overdue wage increases and improvements to working conditions," said Scott Doherty, lead negotiator and Assistant to the National President.
"We are proud to present what we have negotiated to our members and I want to thank them for their patience, support and solidarity during what has been a long and challenging process," said Sherwin Antonio, member of Local 531's Calgary Bargaining Committee.
The agreement will be presented to members at ratification meetings later this week.
The tentative agreement means there will be no service interruptions for WestJet pax in advance of Tuesday's strike deadline as airlines and airports across Canada have been plagued by cancellations, long delays and lineups as they continue to struggle to resume normal operations.