|WestJet Aircraft Maintenance Professionals
Bret Oestreich, National President
WestJet Puts Parties on Course to Lockout/Strike
January 23, 2024
Dear WestJet Aircraft Maintenance Professionals:
AMFA and WestJet have been engaged in robust contract negotiations since October 2023. On January 22, 2024, AMFA was advised that WestJet had filed a Notice of Dispute with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The Notice seeks the appointment of a Conciliation Officer to monitor future negotiations between the parties. While AMFA welcomes the oversight of the appointed Officer, the unilateral decision to file a Notice of Dispute indicates WestJet’s plan to rush negotiations and resort to economic coercion should it not get its way.
Under the Canada Labour Code, before an employer or union may participate in an authorized lockout or strike, as a prerequisite, it must request that a Conciliation Officer review the state of negotiations between the parties. Economic self-help may begin twenty-one (21) days after the Officer submits his or her official report. WestJet has made the first step towards a potential lockout that would have serious impacts on both its scheduled operations and the well-being of its employees. The fact that WestJet is preparing for these drastic actions after only a handful of bargaining sessions indicates that it does not want to negotiate but would rather dictate terms and impose a substandard contract. It appears willing to exploit the legal process to maximize the pressure brought to bear on its employees.
In other areas of bargaining, WestJet has wholly ignored applicable laws or has attempted to have AMFA waive its members’ statutory rights. On the issue of bargaining unit scope, WestJet has refused to make proposals that reflect the bargaining unit certified by the Canada Industrial Relations Board. It has demanded that AMFA waive its members’ right to legal process in the event of damage to company property. WestJet has proposed a layoff notice period that is potentially less than the minimum required under the Canada Labour Code. Recently, AMFA initiated a review of WestJet’s fatigue risk management and overtime practices based on concerns that those practices do not comply with federal law.
AMFA is committed to aggressively defending the rights of aircraft maintenance professionals in both Canada and the U.S. It knows how to fight against employers’ coercive strategies in all their forms. That coercion necessarily decreases employees’ quality of life and jeopardizes the safety of air travel.
Negotiation sessions are currently scheduled for January 30 – February 1 in Vancouver and February 6 – February 9 in Calgary. We welcome your attendance and continued support.