WestJet Airlines Pilots File for Conciliation


The WestJet Master Executive Council (MEC), represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), today filed a request for conciliation assistance with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service with regard to collective bargaining at WestJet.

The federal conciliation process allows the pilot group the opportunity to seek the government’s assistance to reach an agreement with the airline on their second contract. WestJet pilots and management began bargaining in September 2022. Although some progress has been made, the parties remain far apart on multiple key issues. 

“After months of negotiations in good faith and making a sincere effort, we have only tentatively agreed to 10 of 39 sections“ said Capt. Bernard Lewall, chair of the WestJet MEC. “We are optimistic a federal conciliation officer will be able to assist in moving the bargaining process towards a satisfactory agreement.” 

WestJet faced severe operational challenges during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic but is on its way to recovery—thanks in large part to the personal and financial sacrifices of the pilot group and other employees. For some pilots, those sacrifices included a nearly 70 percent reduction in pay, while close to half of WestJet’s pilots were furloughed.

As WestJet continues its transition back to a pre-pandemic level of operations, the airline faces new challenges. “We are seeing a mass exodus of pilots from our airline as they look to explore better options at other airlines,” said Capt. Lewall. “WestJet is suffering from major pilot attraction and retention issues, which we believe management can easily navigate by offering a proper contract that recognizes past sacrifices and is reflective of the North American pilot labour marketplace.”

With this request for conciliation, the minister of Labour now has 15 days to appoint a conciliation officer. Once appointed, the officer will work with the parties for 60 days to reach an agreement. If both parties remain at an impasse following this period, a 21-day cooling-off period begins before the parties can engage in self-help.

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The United Master Executive Council (MEC) of the Air Line Pilots Association, International is the governing body that represents over 13,000 United Airlines pilots. The MEC, related committee members, and professional staff work to protect and promote the careers of United pilots, concentrating on safety, pay, working conditions, benefits, and job security. The United MEC is composed of member-elected representatives from New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Cleveland, Guam, and the Training Center in Denver. Local pilot volunteers form the backbone of our committee structure, and full-time ALPA staff round out our team with legal, administrative, and communications support. As the formal collective bargaining agent for United pilots, the MEC is charged with negotiating pilot contracts and promoting airline safety and security. ALPA’s motto, “Schedule with Safety,” guides the work we do every day. The initiatives of United ALPA volunteers have directly resulted in many of the safety features found in today’s modern aircraft and airports. Our contract, the United Pilot Agreement, sets the industry standard for compensation and work rules that ensure the long-term viability of the airline piloting profession.


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