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AMFA-WJA Negotiations Update #17: General Band Compensation and Outsourcing Issues (REVISED)
May 30, 2024

May 28, 2024

The AMFA-WestJet Negotiating Committee (the “Committee”) is providing this update to the Membership at WestJet, an Alberta Partnership (“WestJet”). This is the only officially authorized source of negotiating communications.

On May 10, 2024, in correspondence directed to Senior Manager - Labor Relations Virginia Swindall, AMFA legal counsel identified two unresolved issues in the Tentative Agreement (TA) and Implementation Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) related to the compensation of General Band Employees.

First, since May 1, 2023, the Company has withheld a 4% scheduled wage increase from certain General Band Employees – i.e., Fleet Engineer, Maintenance Planner, Tech. Instructor, Sr. Tech. Instructor, Sr. Specialist Config. Control, Sr. Specialist Tech. Services. Section 2.9 of the MOA provides 4% retroactive pay to compensate those General Band Employees for the missed raise. Section 2.7 provides 10% retroactive pay to all Employees for the month of June 2024. AMFA understood that the 10% retroactive pay would compound the 4% retroactive pay for General Band Employees. Otherwise, General Band Employees would be penalized for the Company’s unilateral decision to withhold the 4% scheduled wage increase.

Second, the parties discussed during bargaining that no Employee should experience a pay decrease as a result of the collective agreement.  Section 2.2 of the MOA provides that General Band Employees will be assigned to a pay step based on their years of continuous service in that classification.  While Section 2.3 protects certain General Band Employees with wages above the top step of the scale, there are no express protections for Employees below the top step.  Certain General Band Employees may suffer a reduction in pay as a result of being placed on the wage scale.

WestJet failed to acknowledge AMFA’s request or to provide any response prior to AMFA’s contract ratification roadshow conducted May 21-23.

In the lead-up to the roadshow, the Company did inform AMFA that it planned to outsource B-Check work traditionally performed by bargaining unit employees. The outsourcing was presented as a fait accompli, and the Company made no effort to engage AMFA prior to implementing its decision unilaterally.

On May 24, 2024, AMFA President Bret Oestreich wrote to Vice President Gandeephan Ganeshalingam and reiterated the Union’s request for the critical information necessary to educate General Band Employees prior to the ratification vote. AMFA also objected to the planned outsourcing as a violation of its obligation to maintain the status quo as mandated by the Canada Labour Code.  In order to avoid compromising the ratification process, AMFA sought compensation for the outsourced work in the amount of 910 hours of AME work for equitable distribution to our members.

It was not until May 27 that AMFA received an email response to its May 10 inquiries. Ms. Swindall’s May 27 correspondence states, in a terse and perfunctory fashion, that:

  1. Both Sections 2.7 and 2.9 of the implementation apply to the positions listed in your query.
     
  2. The data requested has previously been provided by Sarah Iverson – on March 15 for positions in scope at the time and for the added positions April 17 (wages and years of service) and April 29 (remainder). The Company’s position on future rates of pay are as outlined in Article X – Rates of Pay.

Unfortunately, members will have to derive what meaning they can from Ms. Swindall’s reply.  In the eyes of the Negotiating Committee, the status of General Band retroactive pay and future compensation remains uncertain.

In response to AMFA’s outsourcing objections, Mr. Ganeshalingam refused to acknowledge chronic understaffing and fatigue issues among WestJet’s TechOps employees and failed to respond to AMFA’s request that its members be compensated for the stolen work.

Stay engaged with your Union updates and officers and continue to watch what the Company does rather than what it says in written updates or video messages.  Remain informed and continue to support the Negotiating Committee as that support increases the ability to bargain a collective agreement your hard work deserves.  Thank you for your support.

Fraternally,

AMFA-WestJet Negotiating Committee


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AMFA
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Centennial, CO 80112
  303-752-2632

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