February 2, 2024
Participants for AMFA
Bret Oestreich – National President
Pat Amore – National Vice President
Earl Clark Region I Director
Will Abbott – Region II Director
Ian Evershed –Airline Representative
Simon Weizman – Member-at-Large Negotiator
Lee Seham – Legal Counsel
Samuel Seham – Legal Counsel
Participants for WestJet Airlines:
Virginia Swindall – Senior Manager, Labour Relations
Alex Hunt – Corporate Counsel – Labour Relations
John Romane – Person Responsible for Maintenance
Sarah Iverson – Labour Relations Advisor
Sara Nuhn – Lead Coordinator, Tech-ops
Darren Cook – Line Maintenance Manager
The AMFA-WestJet Negotiating Committee (the “Committee”) is providing this update to the Membership at WestJet, an Alberta Partnership (“WestJet”). This is the only official authorized source of negotiating communications.
On January 30 - February 1, 2024, WestJet and AMFA representatives met in Vancouver, British Columbia, to continue negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement. The negotiations were led by AMFA Region II Director Will Abbott, AMFA Region I Director Earl Clark, and WestJet Senior Manager, Labour Relations Virginia Swindall. This was the first collective bargaining session attended by two mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) – Michelle D. Glubrecht and Karlene Bateman – who, for the most part, acted as silent observers.
Unfortunately, the process was marked by further indicia of bad faith on the part of the Company, including:
- WestJet’s refusal to move off its classifications proposal that would result in the elimination of the existing AML and ICL positions;
- WestJet’s rejection of the rationale that AMEs should receive health benefits comparable to the pilot group because our families’ health is of equal importance;
- Proposals riddled with terms such as “may” or “at the Company’s discretion” that would render any enforceable contract rights illusory; and,
- The peremptory rejection of Union proposals on the grounds that AMEs were not entitled to certain rights or benefits in a “first contract.”
AMFA negotiators painstakingly explained the rationale underlying Union proposals and conscientiously responded to probing questions from their WestJet counterparts. However, when WestJet ALR Ian Evershed posed questions concerning why certain benefits should be withheld from AMEs, he frequently received the acerbic response: “That’s our proposal; you are welcome to submit a counter.”
Notwithstanding the fact that the parties have not yet even touched upon compensation issues, WestJet has refused to agree to negotiating dates beyond an April 2-4 session scheduled for Edmonton. On February 1, Senior Manager, Labour Relations Virginia Swindall advised that “other April dates are outside the current timelines ….”
WestJet’s initiation of mediation, without prior consultation with AMFA, triggered a timeline that allows the carrier to implement a lockout or the Union to commence a strike as early as April 17.
In view of the bad faith exhibited by WestJet, and in particular the carrier's determination to bargain to an impasse on a classification proposal that eliminates job classifications within the union's CIRB-certified bargaining unit, it is AMFA’s position that any ensuing strike or lockout will be an Unfair Labour Practice strike/lockout entitling all affected employees to full make whole relief. Public Service Alliance of Canada, 2022 CIRB 1043 (October 25, 2022).
While we encourage all AMFA members to avoid major purchases or incurring new debt for the next several months, we believe any work stoppage will be brief. Moreover, under the Canadian Labour Code all workers who have struck or have been locked out are entitled to reinstatement upon conclusion of the action.
Stay engaged, remain informed, and continue to support the Negotiating Committee as that support increases the ability to bargain a collective 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