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Thu, Apr 20, 2023

WestJet Pilot Base Approves Job Action

As Company Bleeds Talent, Clock Ticks on Conciliation Deadline

Staring down the deadline for conciliation, Westjet pilots turned in an “overwhelming vote of support for lawful job action”, according to their representatives at the ALPA. More than 95% of the pilot base turned out to vote, with 93% voting to strike if a negotiated settlement is not reached by May 16, 2023. 

The result was described as a “clear sign that WestJet pilots remain committed to securing a North American industry-standard contract,” noting that an agreeable deal would “go a long way toward fixing WestJet’s recruitment and retention issues. They note with consternation the amount of talent loss experienced by the airline, blaming the airline’s cost reductions, wage stagnation, and scheduling woes. 

“WestJet, despite repeatedly touting its growth strategy, is hemorrhaging around 30 pilots per month and is on track to lose up to 20 percent of its experienced pilot work force within the next year,” said the ALPA bulletin announcing the vote. Captain Bernard Lewall, chair of the ALPA WestJet MEC, said that “every 18 hours a WestJet Group pilot turns in their wings for a better career.” 

“We are hopeful that today’s strong strike vote result and the excellent show of unity displayed during our informational picket last month incentivize management to reach an agreement with us—an agreement that will provide job security and career progression for our pilots and, most importantly, stability to the airline and our passengers,” said Lewall. “Our goal is to avoid a strike; however, WestJet fails to recognize the value and the expertise we bring to our airline and the pride we have in transporting our guests safely to their destinations every day. We want to continue being a major contributor to WestJet’s success and help our airline achieve its growth strategy, but if management leaves us no other option, we will be ready to take job action only if forced.” 

FMI: www.alpa.org

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