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AMFA-WJA Negotiations Update #9
Mar 23, 2024

March 23, 2024

Participants for AMFA:
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:
Diederik Pen – President and COO
Virginia Swindall – Senior Manager, Labour Relations
Gandeephan Ganeshalingam – Vice President Tech Ops
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 officially authorized source of negotiating communications.

On March 19-21, 2024, WestJet and AMFA representatives met in Calgary, Alberta, to continue negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement. The negotiations were led by AMFA Region II Director Will Abbott and, on the first half-day, by Senior Manager, Labour Relations Virginia Swindall and, on the afternoon of March 19 through March 20, by WestJet President Diederik Pen.

By way of background, we remind our members that Virginia Swindall, by email dated February 1, 2024, to AMFA and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (“FMCS”) declined to confirm negotiation dates beyond April 4, but advised “it is our intention to have a tentative agreement for the Union to recommend to its members not later than April 13.”  In view of the fact that forty or more contract articles remain open, AMFA anticipated that WestJet would present a wage-focused proposal for the purpose of “buying” the AMEs’ acquiescence to the carrier’s control with respect to work rules.

On March 19, Swindall presented WestJet’s “comprehensive proposal.” With respect to wages, a five-year contract with a 3.5 percent increase in the first year and increases of 2, 2, 1, and 1 percent in the out years. WestJet also proposed a vacation bidding structure that would only guarantee a single AME in the entire system the right to have Christmas off with their family. WestJet also advised that it refused to respond to AMFA’s drug testing proposal, which sought to implement recognized forensic standards for ensuring the reliability of results and to extend to those testing positive a one-time opportunity to return to work after prescribed treatment. AMFA advised that the WestJet “comprehensive” proposal was made in bad faith and would be seen by the carrier’s AMEs as a deliberate provocation.

Diederik intervened at this juncture, and the parties engaged in what, initially, appeared to be constructive negotiations concerning the protection of bargaining unit work.

WestJet has taken the position that it is dedicated to the gradual elimination of the Aircraft Maintenance Lead (AML) and Inspector Crew Lead (ICL) positions and replacing them with a new Operations Lead (OL) position.

AMFA responded that it would consider the adoption of an OL position provided that:  (1) all existing AML and ICLs remained in their positions; (2) the new OL position would capture all work performed by AMLs and ICLs as of the date of union certification; (3) AML/ICL/OL staffing levels would return to, at a minimum, the levels that existed at the date of certification; and (4) the parties would resolve all disputes over the scope of the bargaining unit.

With respect to this last item, AMFA’s proposal included provisions providing that: (a) WestJet would withdraw its federal lawsuit challenging the CIRB’s certification decision, (b) AMFA would withdraw its OM-related CIRB charges, (c) certain “behind-the-wall” maintenance positions would be included in the unit, and (d) with bargaining unit issues resolved, AMFA would withdraw its opposition to the Sunwing integration.

Diederik responded positively to AMFA’s conceptual approach, and AMFA negotiators spent the evening of March 20 reducing to writing a proposal that would resolve all bargaining unit issues. Diederik did not attend the negotiations on March 21. In his absence, WestJet negotiators advised that they were only interested in addressing the AML/ICL/OL issue and that any consideration of the remaining bargaining unit issues would be addressed as part of a comprehensive proposal.

Nothing of substance was accomplished during this three-day negotiating session, and the parties remain on a path toward strike/lockout.

An AME leafletting picket is scheduled to take place on March 22 in Calgary, and AMFA plans to file a position statement with the CIRB asserting the position that Sunwing cannot be integrated into WestJet for labour relations purposes while WestJet persists in its refusal to recognize the CIRB certification order.

Stay engaged with your Union updates and officers, and continue to watch what the Company does as opposed to 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. Your AMFA representatives will provide regular updates throughout the negotiating process.  Thank you for your support.


AMFA-WestJet Negotiating Committee

7853 E. Arapahoe Court, Suite 1100
Centennial, CO 80112

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