CUPE has become certified bargaining agent for WestJet cabin crew members
The cabin crew members from one of Canada’s two major airlines will be represented by the country’s most high-profile unions, WestJet said in a news release issued Tuesday night.
The Calgary-based passenger airline said earlier in the day it “received an interim certification order from the Canadian Industrial Relations Board confirming the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) as the certified bargaining agent for WestJet cabin crew members.”
In a statement Wednesday, the CUPE confirmed it had been issued an interim certification to represent 3,000 mainline flight attendants at WestJet.
“CUPE is Canada’s flight attendant union and we’re ready to hit the ground running in support of WestJetters as they push for a strong contract to make their work lives better,” CUPE National President Mark Hancock said.
“CUPE has the resources, the experience and the expertise to get WestJetters the fair treatment and improved working conditions that they deserve,” the union’s Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury added. “We could not be more excited to get to work with our new members.”
“We are disappointed by this outcome but respect the rights of our employees to choose their representation,” WestJet CEO Ed Sims said in a news release. “We now shift our focus to working effectively with CUPE in the interest of success for WestJet as a whole.”
According to WestJet, the certification order does not include cabin crew members from its low-cost carriers: Swoop and WestJet encore. CUPE said it would continue efforts to unionize flight attendance with those other carriers.
WestJet said because the order is “interim” in nature, it has until Aug. 10 to make submissions on the exclusion of certain positions from the scope of the bargaining unit.
Not including WestJet, CUPE represents 12,000 flight attendants at 10 airlines across Canada. It said it has been working with WestJet flight attendants for the last year to form a union.
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“They really started to see the value that a labour union could bring to them at work in advancing their rights at work,” CUPE spokesperson Hugh Pouliot said in early July. “And so that’s when we saw a really big surge in interest from WestJetters.”
Pouliot said compensation, scheduling and seniority are among the primary concerns that CUPE has heard from cabin crew members.
News of the development came just hours after Sims warned airline passengers they should expect to face higher fares later this year as a result of rising fuel costs that played a role in the airline posting its first quarterly loss in 13 years.
–With files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Kaylen Small
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