The Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) announced today that the more than 1,400 pilots at WestJet voted for representation by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA).
With 97 percent of eligible pilots participating in the election, 62 percent voted in favor of joining the world’s largest pilot union, sending a strong message that WestJet pilots recognize the importance of world-class representation and a collective agreement under Part 1 of the Canada Labour Code.
“WestJet pilots told us that it’s time for a certified union, and the Organizing Committee worked hard to build unity within their group,” said ALPA president, Capt. Tim Canoll. “With ALPA representation, pilot unity plays an integral role in supporting the process of negotiating a legally binding collective agreement.”
The CIRB will now approve the election results. Once the Board issues the certification order, ALPA will become the exclusive bargaining agent for the WestJet pilots. The Board normally issues a certification order within one to two weeks.
Today’s vote was the result of a focused campaign that began when WestJet pilots approached ALPA about representation options. In December 2016, Capt. Canoll joined a group of WestJet pilots in announcing the membership card collection process in Calgary. On April 20, WestJet pilots submitted a strong number of membership cards to the CIRB, triggering the representation election.
“Pilots spend a lifetime at an airline,” said Capt. Rob McFadyen, a member of the WestJet ALPA Organizing Committee. “We as WestJet pilots need the best possible support for ourselves and our families—health, retirement, fatigue, safety, family support, legal protection, and more—and today, we pledged that ALPA will help our pilot group provide that support moving forward.”
The focus for pilots now shifts to the ALPA membership drive and establishing pilot representatives in each base (Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver), which lays the foundation needed to build the WestJet Master Executive Council and start negotiating their first collective agreement.
“We look forward to putting ALPA’s vast resources to work to help the WestJet pilots reach their first contract,” said Capt. Dan Adamus, president of ALPA Canada. “From aeromedical advisors and insurance benefits to our world-class safety structure, we welcome WestJet pilots and look forward to building a solid working relationship with the management team.”
The Canadian airline issued the following statement from President and Chief Executive Officer Gregg Saretsky regarding the outcome of the unionization vote among its pilots.:
“We are disappointed with the outcome of the vote but we are dedicated to moving forward as a team. We will now focus on engaging in constructive dialogue with ALPA and concentrate on the continued success of the organization for guests, employees, and shareholders.”