Work stoppage averted as WestJet, aircraft engineers’ union reach tentative deal

WestJet and the union representing its maintenance engineers reached a tentative agreement late Sunday, averting a work stoppage that could have started disrupting flights as early as Tuesday afternoon.

The Calgary-based airline and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), which represents the engineers who maintain WestJet aircraft and other technical operations employees, announced the development shortly after 10:30 p.m. MT on Sunday.

AMFA members still need to ratify the tentative agreement, which would establish the first collective agreement between the two parties, according to the joint statement.

“After nine months of tough negotiating, we are proud to have reached a tentative agreement that will now be presented, through the ratification process, to the hard working Aircraft Maintenance Engineers and other Technical Operations employees who go above and beyond to maintain a best-in-class culture of safety for the WestJet Group,” said AMFA director Will Abbott in the statement.

The union and WestJet have been at the bargaining table since September 2023, negotiating pay, benefits and key provisions defining the work AMFA members must complete for WestJet.

“We also have to make sure that we have language that protects the jobs that you do. You can have all the money in the world, but if you don’t have the language to protect your job, you’re not going to earn,” Abbott told CBC last week.

On Saturday, WestJet issued a 72-hour lockout notice to the union, which paved the way for a work stoppage to begin on Tuesday as early as noon MT.

AMFA members had been in the midst of a weeklong strike vote, which began on May 2. The union had already been encouraging passengers to book travel on other airlines.

The tentative agreement addresses key concerns around compensation, benefits and scheduling, according to WestJet Airlines president Diederik Pen.

The airline had said a work stoppage would have forced it to operate a reduced flight schedule and allow passengers to change and cancel their bookings more liberally. It also encouraged WestJet staff not to book travel on the airline last week.

“We are grateful to have arrived at a deal, averting a work stoppage and any impact to our guests’ valued travel plans,” Pen said on Sunday. 

“We sincerely appreciate our guests’ patience during this time and are pleased to move forward with an unwavering focus to providing friendly, reliable and affordable air service to Canadians for years to come, as one unified team.”

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