Participants for AMFA:
Bret Oestreich – National President
Ian Evershed –Airline Representative
Simon Weizman – Member-at-Large Negotiator
Lee Seham– Legal Counsel
Participants for WestJet Airlines:
Virginia Swindall – Senior Manager, Labour Relations
Alex Hunt – Corporate Counsel – Labour Relations
John Romane – Director of Line Maintenance
Darren Cook– Manager Line Maintenance
Sarah Iverson – Labour Relations Advisor
Sara Nuhn- Lead Coordinator, Tech-ops
Alisha Visanji- Manager Finance Planning & Analysis
The AMFA-WestJet Negotiating Committee (the “Committee”) is providing this update to the Membership at WestJet Airlines (WJA). This is the only official authorized source of negotiating communications by the Committee.
On September 7, 2023, an initial collective bargaining session was held between WestJet and AMFA representatives in Calgary, AB. AMFA negotiators Evershed and Weizman spoke forcefully concerning the decline in WestJet’s culture providing numerous examples, including furloughs out of seniority order, irregularities in pay scale, and work privileges that have been eliminated without notice or rationale. They noted that, in years past, many aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs) willingly took pay cuts to transfer into WestJet because of the quality of life and benefits of the positive work environment. With the decline of that environment, many WJA AMEs are beginning to consider other employers in order to enhance their income. These comments were met with sympathetic acknowledgments and an expressed commitment to be more responsive to employee concerns.
Ms. Swindall expressed a “warm welcome” to the AMFA negotiators and stated that WJA was “excited” to be engaging with the Union. She pledged that WJA would negotiate in good faith and anticipated a full agreement could be reached in nine to twelve months.
WJA representatives apologized for a recent disciplinary action taken without prior consultation with the Union and promised that this would not happen again.
The parties reached a tentative deal on a Union Business Release Agreement that ensures that AMFA negotiators, such as Ian and Simon, will not be subject to a loss of wages or benefits due to their attendance at negotiations. We anticipate that the document will be executed this coming week.
The parties also discussed in detail an agreement on negotiating protocols, including WJA’s recognition of AMFA’s constitutional mandate that no collective bargaining agreement will be deemed finalized until ratified by a majority of members in good standing. We anticipate executing this agreement in the coming week as well.
While recognizing AMFA’s right to select its own representatives, WJA has tentatively declined the Union’s request for rank-and-file members to be permitted to attend negotiating sessions as silent observers. We regret WJA’s position and intend to promote participation by allowing members to be present in negotiating caucus rooms where they can receive live updates and provide real-time input to AMFA negotiators.
WJA proposed that negotiations be suspended until the Sunwing merger and related CIRB proceedings have been completed. AMFA rejected the proposal and advised that it would consider any suspension of negotiations on that basis to be unlawful. The parties agreed that negotiations would proceed with the next session to be held commencing October 3-5, 2023, tentatively in Toronto, ON.
Stay engaged, remain informed, and continue to support the Negotiating Committee as that support increases the ability to bargain a collective bargaining agreement your hard work deserves. Your AMFA representatives will provide regular updates throughout the negotiating process. Thank you for your support.
AMFA-WestJet Negotiating Committee