WestJet Flight Attendants, Pilots Seeking Unionization
In the wake of the recent ratification of an unfavorable five-year work agreement with WestJet and with impending rule changes less than one week away, flight attendants and pilots for the Canadian low-cost carrier are ramping up their efforts to unionize.
According to Tracy Johnson of CBC News, the agreement reached last month was only approved by 57 percent of the 82 percent of flight attendants who voted (fewer than half of all the company's flight attendants). One unidentified flight attendant called it "effectively a decrease in pay."
Now, the WestJet Professional Flight Attendants Association is looking to gain certification before June 16, when labor laws go into effect in Canada that will make forming a union more difficult.
Currently, the WPFAA only needs 50 percent plus one of employees to sign a union card to become certified. But after June 16, employees will also have to vote in a secret ballot in order to successfully complete the process.
Therefore, the WPFAA is pushing to get certification in the coming days.
"That is our goal. Our greatest obstacle to certification is fear. The flight attendants are afraid to sign cards, because of the stigma attached to unionizing and because we have always been told we would lose privileges if we ever did certify," said the union via CBC News. "Over the last few months, we have seen great momentum, and we believe that since this agreement passed, and without a majority vote, we will get the cards we need to certify very soon."
The flight attendants highlighted culture and morale as the motivation behind their quest for union certification.
"We are just looking to gain back some of the culture and morale that has been lost over the last few years," said the union via CBC News. "We are hoping to be the solution that many of the flight attendants are seeking."
The WestJet Professional Pilots Association has seemingly pushed harder of late to unionize as well, posting daily reminders for pilots to sign union cards on its Facebook page and bringing in a Southwest Airlines captain to explain the advantages of unionizing, according to Johnson.
More by Patrick Clarke
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