Westjet says it has ratified its first collective agreement with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents more than 3,100 cabin crew.
CUPE has represented cabin crew at Calgary-based WestJet Airlines Ltd. since 2018 and has engaged the company in collective bargaining toward a union contract since April 2019.
In a previous statement after the agreement was tentatively reached, CUPE Local 4070 president Chris Rauenbusch had characterized the news as a “monumental task” given COVID-19 travel restrictions and layoffs.
“[This is] an unprecedented achievement at the height of trying times for our industry,” he said.
A total of 1,663 of CUPE Local 4070’s members (66.8 per cent of those who voted) were in favour of the agreement, which is effective retroactive to March 1 and will remain in effect until the end of 2025.
In a statement, Ed Sims, WestJet’s president and CEO, said he was pleased with the historic agreement.
“The resulting agreement is a reflection of the interest-based bargaining required to achieve this positive outcome and it is a strong example of how we can work together, respectfully with dedication and professionalism, to benefit our employees and our guests during these challenging times,” he said in a release on Saturday.
The union said some of the items, like per diem increases, will be retroactive to March 1, while others will be phased in as part of an implementation schedule that is outlined in the agreement.
The agreement comes during a period of ongoing uncertainty for airlines and workers.
In February, WestJet announced it would lay off 120 cabin crew members as of March 2, saying a lack of flights to Mexico and the Caribbean contributed to the move. It also said it would lay of an undisclosed number of pilots.