531 WestJet employees unionize with Unifor in Calgary and Vancouver
A change in workplace culture after WestJet’s sale was cited as a reason for why 531 of its employees have opted to join the Unifor union.
The WestJet workers — which include customer service agents — join about 7,000 other unionized airline workers with Unifor under carriers such as Air Canada and Air Canada Jazz.
“You went from the perception of ‘we’re teammates, it’s a family culture,’ to being owned by Onex, which is a huge, huge company,” said Unifor president Jerry Dias, referring to WestJet’s owner, Onex Corp., which bought the airline nearly two years ago.
“Onex operated different than the old WestJet for sure, one of the first things that happened was the unilateral outsourcing of so many jobs in some of the smaller bases.”
The union said the workplace organization efforts will help ensure that senior employees are the first to be called back in an eventual reopening of the airline industry.
WestJet said it has received notice of the union’s successful application and will work through the next steps with the national labour board.
Unifor organizing director Kellie Scanlan said unionization efforts are continuing at WestJet’s bases in Toronto and Edmonton.