WestJet workers in Calgary and Vancouver ratify historic first contract

CALGARY, AB, July 29, 2022 /CNW/ – Newly unionized WestJet workers in Calgary and Vancouver have ratified a first contract that gives members at least a 13% wage increase, their first increase in five years.

“After nine months of challenging bargaining, the Local 531 bargaining committee achieved long overdue and significant wage increases, improved benefits and better working conditions,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the National President and lead on the airline sector.

Newly unionized WestJet workers in Calgary and Vancouver have ratified a first contract.

Unifor Local 531 Bargaining Committee lead by Scott Doherty (CNW Group/Unifor)
Unifor Local 531 Bargaining Committee lead by Scott Doherty (CNW Group/Unifor)

“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,(BSA’s) customer service agents (CSA.s) and priority service agents (PSA’s) in Calgary and Vancouver airports after being certified in May of 2021.

Steps have merged, condensing the time workers progress, ensuring faster wage increases. A 5% premium over CSA/PSA wage scale replaces the $1 per hour premium previously in place. An extra step at the top of the grid giving members an additional increase after 8 years of service.

Other gains include a $100.00 yearly uniform allowance, paid breaks, 100 hour stat holiday credit, continuation of the WestJet Savings Plan, seniority rights, 12 sick days for full time and 10 for part time workers, minimum rest periods, and improved scheduling.

The employer has also agreed that casual employees will not exceed 10% of the workforce.

Bargaining began in October 2021, and Unifor Local 531 filed for conciliation with the Canadian government on April 26, 2022.

“Together we have proven there is power in a union and we strongly encourage WestJetters in Edmonton to join Unifor Local 531. Our bargaining committee worked hard for these important gains and we appreciate the unwavering solidarity from the members,” said Sherwin Antonio, member of Local 531’s Calgary Bargaining Committee. 

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.