Sunday, December 21, 2014

WestJet pilots sign new four-year deal

WestJet pilots have signed on to a new four-year deal that will place them “among the highest paid in the Canadian industry,” the Calgary-based airline announced Sunday.

The new contract, which WestJet says also includes enhancements to scheduling, is the airline’s second attempt at satisfying its pilots after a previous tentative agreement was voted down last year. That agreement had been endorsed by both management and the leadership of the WestJet Pilots Association (WJPA), a non-unionized employee association.

WestJet’s 1,250 pilots have been without a contract since April 30, 2013.

WestJet has long prided itself on its positive workplace culture, but the airline’s rapid expansion and growth in the past two years has caused some turbulence. Members of an in-house group calling itself the WestJet Professional Pilots Association have been trying to convince their colleagues to unionize, and there are also two separate unionization drives underway aimed at the carrier’s flight attendants.

Last month, WestJet flight attendants rejected a tentative agreement negotiated between management and the company’s non-unionized flight attendant association. That agreement contained new provisions for dispute resolution as well as a series of formally established work rules and was aimed at quelling the ongoing unionization efforts.

In a release Sunday, WestJet executive vice-president of operations Fred Cleveland welcomed the signing of the new pilots’ contract, adding he is confident the terms will allow the company to sustain its “industry-leading productivity.”

“We thank our pilots for their professionalism and the outstanding service they provided our guests every day as we worked toward this new agreement over the past 24 months,” Cleveland said.

The new agreement will expire on April 30, 2019.


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