Frustration in eastern Canada in wake of WestJet’s planned route suspensions

Unifor members ratify new WestJet agreement

CALGARY — The first collective bargaining agreement between WestJet and Unifor was ratified by Unifor’s members today, less than a week after a tentative labour deal was made that avoided a walkout of nearly 800 baggage and customer service staff at the Calgary and Vancouver airports.

The contract secures a minimum 13% wage increase for newly unionized WestJet workers, their first increase in five years. The agreement will come into effect Sept. 1, 2022 and remain in place until Dec. 31, 2026.

“WestJet is pleased to share that the agreement negotiated with Unifor has been ratified by its membership,” said Angela Avery, WestJet Executive Vice-President and Chief People, Corporate and Sustainability Officer. “This settlement demonstrates WestJet’s commitment to its employees, the long-term success of the airline and the communities we serve.”

Scott Doherty, Unifor’s Executive Assistant to the National President and lead on the airline sector, added: “After nine months of challenging bargaining, the Local 531 bargaining committee achieved long overdue and significant wage increases, improved benefits and better working conditions. Members starting out in the wage grid will see their wages rise as much as 40%, and members at the top of the scale will see increases between 13% and 17% over the life of the agreement.”

Unifor Local 531 represents nearly 800 baggage service agents, customer service agents and priority service agents in Calgary and Vancouver airports after being certified in May 2021.Bargaining began in October 2021 and Unifor Local 531 filed for conciliation with the Canadian government on April 26, 2022. A deal was reached on July 24, just days before baggage and service staff at both airports were set to walk off the job on July 27.