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Malcolm

Encore Pilots Have Numbers to Unionize

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WestJet Encore pilot internal email

A letter to pilots from the Encore ALPA Organizing Committee was obtained by CBC News.

Despite all of its efforts, WestJet is losing the battle to deter its employees from forming unions.

Pilots flying for WestJet Encore announced Wednesday they have the numbers to unionize, which follows certification of pilots flying for the Calgary-based company's flagship carrier. 

An "overwhelming majority" of Encore pilots filed membership cards, according to the Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l (ALPA). The union will officially form once it receives approval from the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

About 500 pilots work at Encore, which is WestJet's regional airline.

"We're excited for the Encore pilots, and proud of their hard work in organizing this group, gathering membership cards in a short time," said Capt. Dan Adamus, ALPA Canada president, in a statement. "When they join ALPA, they will add their voices to the thousands of union-represented airline pilot voices in Canada." 

CUPEUnifor, the United Steelworkers, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers also began union drives this summer. CUPE, in particular, is pushing to represent all flight attendants.

 

Until the pilot groups were successful, several union drives fell short since 2014 as WestJet management tried to sway employees to stick with the status quo. The company argued against unionization, saying it would harm the unique culture of the airline and its financial position. Management frequently delivered its message to workers and co-founder Clive Beddoe even wrote to employees, saying WestJet's success hinged on its "unity of purpose" and co-operation instead on confrontation.

WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky took an apparent jab at union drives last year during an employee pep rally.

"There are WestJetters who don't contribute positively to the culture," he said. "And if we can't bring them back into the fold, we have to make it uncomfortable for them to stay here. They need to find their happiness elsewhere."

ALPA is the world's largest pilot union and already represents pilots at several Canadian airlines including Air Transat, Bearskin, Calm Air, Canadian North, First Air, and Jazz Aviation. 

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I wonder if Mr. Saretsky believes in leaving a legacy. If he does, he can't be thrilled with this latest news on the labour front. Clive must be turning cartwheels.

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8 minutes ago, J.O. said:

I wonder if Mr. Saretsky believes in leaving a legacy. 

He is leaving a legacy - probably not the one he wanted though.

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I think WS has been operating on the assumption unionization above the wing was inevitable for some time and unwilling to make any concessions to prevent it.

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1 hour ago, Super 80 said:

I think WS has been operating on the assumption unionization above the wing was inevitable for some time and unwilling to make any concessions to prevent it.

Either that or they were playing ostrich! :D  After-all everyone loved them. 

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4 hours ago, Super 80 said:

I think WS has been operating on the assumption unionization above the wing was inevitable for some time and unwilling to make any concessions to prevent it.

That's...an interpretation.

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Saretsky, has a even bigger problem then a union, WestJet pilots are starting to vote with their feet.  AC has hired at least 10 WJ pilots in the last month and a half,  5 on the last course alone.  At that rate of a attrition, how long before Saretsky cries UNCLE.  Air Canada is hiring big time, between retirements and growth, anyone hired in the next year are going to be in command seats within three to five years.  That's not recruiting BS, that's facts!  With the recent internal statement that they are done with the PML for the time being, where does one recruit pilots.  If the last October PIT course are any indication,. WJ better improve things and quick, or they may find themselves in a RYAN Air situation by late winter early spring.

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8 minutes ago, J.O. said:

Wow, I find that shocking.

I would bet those going to AC are not from the original group who made out $$$$$ very well and are instead those who have hired on in the past several years and found their stock options etc. are not all they thought they would be.

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If you are not happy where you are, then move on if it's in your best interest.

If movement puts a strain to one's previous organisation, then it can improve conditions for those that remain. 

Good luck on your decision and wish you well.

Cheers

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If there are in fact ‘hundreds’ of WJ pilot applications on file at AC, then AC will not need to limit its hiring consideration to the Encore/soon-to-be WJ  pilots.

Question..... given the recent unionization due to discontent, and given all the uncertainty around the impact on WJ pilots of SWOOP,  and given that a WJ direct entry FO is behind 500 pilots at Encore - why would that new-hire WJ 737 FO not consider AC a reasonable (and favourable) career alternative?

WJ has a few shiny 787’s coming. AC has dozens of shiny new planes on the way with hundreds of left seat opportunities.

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On 11/2/2017 at 5:10 PM, Super 80 said:

I think WS has been operating on the assumption unionization above the wing was inevitable for some time and unwilling to make any concessions to prevent it.

I've heard this perspective from several senior WS executives going back as far as 2012.

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Not to poop on the executive bash fest, but there was attempts to quell the masses. 

Remember the news reports containing the results of focus group discussions? Well management was trying to find out what the issues were and that olive branch got thrown back in their face.

Management ain't the only ones to blame here...

Members of the pilot group think they can improve their lot by going with a union. Only time will tell if that's true or not.

Edited by Critter

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One slight adjustment to the thread title. The union says it has enough signed memberships to be certified without a vote. If that happens, it would suggest a stronger desire to unionize that mainline pilots exhibited, at least in the earlier attempts by ALPA to get them to sign up.

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29 minutes ago, dagger said:

One slight adjustment to the thread title. The union says it has enough signed memberships to be certified without a vote. If that happens, it would suggest a stronger desire to unionize that mainline pilots exhibited, at least in the earlier attempts by ALPA to get them to sign up.

Thanks Dagger, I have amended the title.  cheers Malcolm

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3 hours ago, Critter said:

Not to poop on the executive bash fest, but there was attempts to quell the masses. 

Remember the news reports containing the results of focus group discussions? Well management was trying to find out what the issues were and that olive branch got thrown back in their face.

Management ain't the only ones to blame here...

Members of the pilot group think they can improve their lot by going with a union. Only time will tell if that's true or not.

That doesn't work when it reeks of insincerity, you don't negotiate by focus group and it isn't as though the pilots were behaving like moody teenagers.

I hate unions, but very few people who aren't labour ideologues will wake up one morning and decide to invite another hand into their pocket.

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On 2017-11-09 at 11:11 AM, Super 80 said:

That doesn't work when it reeks of insincerity, you don't negotiate by focus group and it isn't as though the pilots were behaving like moody teenagers.

I hate unions, but very few people who aren't labour ideologues will wake up one morning and decide to invite another hand into their pocket.

You're assuming way too much. If you knew the guy who initiated it and who got the most stung by it, you wouldn't call it insincere. 

And it wasn't part of negotiating, it was a genuine fact finding mission.

 

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1 hour ago, Critter said:

You're assuming way too much. If you knew the guy who initiated it and who got the most stung by it, you wouldn't call it insincere. 

And it wasn't part of negotiating, it was a genuine fact finding mission.

 

If so, what caused it to backfire?  

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Someone who had an axe to grind saw the unedited results and took the opportunity to give the company a black eye by releasing it to the press. I'm pretty sure we've all made genuine attempts to make amends in relationships (whether personal or professional) only to have those attempts rebuffed as insincere.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that the collapse of the relationship isn't as one sided as many are making it out to be. Sure the company doesn't get a free pass on the way some decisions (like bases) were implemented, but the answer to the question of "what happened" isn't a one sided one. I was using this as an example of how both sides can share the responsibility. The percentage of which is up for debate.

 

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I was part of these "focus groups" and I can assure you there was no shortage of data on this fact finding mission. I was also relieved and optimistic when the unedited results were released. Finally, all the issues were on the table and they/we were going to start addressing them. To imply they scrubbed any reconciliation with the majority of the pilot group because a select few decided to forward some dirt to the papers is equally as disturbing as doing nothing at all. Also, there seems to be quite a disconnect here between guys that haven't been affected by any of these recent changes (i.e. bases), and guys that have had their lives turned upside down by downgrading, not upgrading, commuting, or uprooting your entire family across the country etc. There is a completely different perspective from say a senior YYC captain and a junior YYZ captain or FO.  In my opinion this unrest and unionization is a direct result of ignoring the issues at hand, and as mentioned above guys are now voting with union cards and their feet. The million dollar question is.. is this sustainable?  This will be an interesting year ahead as we venture into an uncharted pilot shortage, yet I suppose time will be the test. If this pilot shortage is as bad as some predict it will come down to supply and demand. If the pay and working conditions don't support it, well, it just becomes "unsustainable". 

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In the past, as a son of a pilot, we moved quite often due to base changes, downgrading due to equipment changes, bidding on larger aircraft, climbing the seniority ladder etc. That was the norm for the industry. It seems from I see posted today, the new crop is not prepared to put up with the changes and is seeking relief.  I suggest that such relief would only be possible in a "stagnant" industry that is a closed and regulated shop with no growth and with air carriers locked into their routes.

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Malcolm, no one is suggesting that change shouldn't happen. It's simply a matter of treating people fairly and with respect. If you're going to uproot their lives, you'd best be prepared to pay - one way or the other. If that had been done up front, the current union drive would never have started.

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In the past, carriers offered some relief in the form of bypass pay, years of service etc., something to offset the choice of not taking the advancement and someone less in seniority being awarded it. What did we negotiate when we went to bases? The hardline swath through the seniority list leaving the chips fall where they may? For the record I think the YYZ base was a necessity and I did move. I've moved many times in my 23 year career but this one was the most expensive (after the moving package). But this topic was about unionization and some speculation as to why it happened. And why its happening again?  

 

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