May 21, 2021 at 10:00 AM
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In a major victory for hard-hit airline workers, 531 WestJet airport agents in Calgary and Vancouver are now members of Unifor, the Canada Industrial Relations Board has declared.
"Today these workers have gained a voice in their workplace during a challenging time in their industry. WestJet workers are dedicated employees who have a great deal to offer as the airline moves forward,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
"With the sale of their airline almost two years ago and the impact of the pandemic on all airlines over the past year, it is vital that workers have a voice in the future of this company."
Unifor filed an application with the Canada Industrial Relations Board on April 12, 2021 to certify Unifor as the union for 320 airport agents in Calgary and 211 in Vancouver, including those on the job and those laid off due to COVID-19.
The board certified Unifor as the sole bargaining agent for these workers Thursday after declaring that more than half the workers at the two locations had signed membership cards.
Unifor represents 7,500 airport agents at other airlines, including at Air Canada, Jazz, Porter, First Air, Calm Air and more. In all, Unifor represents more than 16,000 workers across the airline industry, and has led the fight to push the federal government to create a national aviation plan, and has held rallies, presented to parliamentary committees and has actively lobbied for a national recovery plan for the sector that includes financial support for workers.
"I am proud to work at WestJet, and proud to now be a member of Unifor. WestJet grew as a company where workers were heard, and Unifor will help make sure that continue," said Sherwin Antonio a Customer Service Agent in Baggage at WestJet in Calgary.
"We have been talking to WestJet workers across the country for some time, and support has always been strong. A year ago, we suddenly could no longer talk to them in airports because of COVID-19, and switched to online organizing," Unifor Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan said.
"Today’s victory for WestJet workers really shows the power online organizing."
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 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.
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