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WestJet reaches tentative agreement with union representing flight attendants

Sidelined WestJet Boeing 737 jets are parked at Calgary International Airport.
Sidelined WestJet Boeing 737 jets are parked at Calgary International Airport.

WestJet has reached a tentative agreement with the union representing more than 3,100 in-flight cabin crew workers at the Calgary-based airline, it announced Sunday.

The carrier and CUPE Local 4070 had been engaged in collective bargaining since April 2019.

CUPE Local 4070 president Chris Rauenbusch called the tentative agreement “an unprecedented achievement at the height of trying times for our industry,” adding that pandemic-related travel restrictions and layoffs made negotiations “a monumental task.”

“In the past year, over 90 per cent of our members have been grounded due to the pandemic,” Rauenbusch said in a statement.

“To achieve a constructive tentative agreement in this environment is remarkable … Though both sides bargained with tenacity, we believe WestJet has demonstrated a clear commitment to building harmonious labour relations moving forward.”

CUPE will conduct a ratification vote on the tentative agreement this month. The union said it wouldn’t release details of the agreement until its members have voted on it.

WestJet President and CEO Ed Sims said he was pleased to see the two sides come together.

“Our Cabin Crew Members are a valued and integral part of the WestJet team and it is our goal to continue supporting them as they continue the safe, caring service our guests expect of WestJet,” he said in a news release.

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The agreement does not extend to cabin crew members with WestJet subsidiaries Encore and Swoop, who are also represented by CUPE. Rauenbusch said he hopes the union will reach similar agreements for its members who work for those subsidiaries.

Last month, WestJet said it would lay off 120 cabin crew members as of March 2, blaming the measure on the lack of flights to Mexico and the Caribbean.

WestJet also said it was laying off an undisclosed number of pilots amid negotiations with the union representing them.

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