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Westjet pilots strike vote

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8 minutes ago, Fido said:

A Union that cannot garner a 90% strike mandate is not much of a union.

There is lots of evidence that historically the WJ pilots have been a divided group (witness the WJPPA and ALPA votes). 

WJ senior management has found a way to galvanize the WJ pilots by directly attacking their livelihood and attempting to open an alter ego operation. Must have misread the management negotiating strategy handbook for divide and conquer.

Nobody can defeat a united pilot group. Only they can defeat themselves.

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Curious what Air Canada corporate policy is with respect to its uniform being worn by its staff outside work environment, particularly in large groups?

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7 hours ago, MD2 said:

Curious what Air Canada corporate policy is with respect to its uniform being worn by its staff outside work environment, particularly in large groups?

In this case, permission was requested and granted.

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12 hours ago, jump seat said:

A great promise but with a catch, unless the refund is immediate, the passenger will have to pony up additional money to pay for their alternate flights.  I wonder, if the strike happens, how WestJet vacations will deal with having to bring their passengers back to Canada?

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There will only be a pilot strike if the company wants one.

Does the AB based corporation believe that the rosy cheeked PM will pass back to work legislation with arbitration for outstanding issues?

I guess we will all know shortly but all indications are that WJ has been unresponsive at the bargaining table. Perhaps they are hoping to make their last, worst proposal the benchmark for arbitration.

Trying to use the CR playbook but not even close to being in the same league when it comes to strategic thinking.

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1 hour ago, rudder said:

Perhaps they are hoping to make their last, worst proposal the benchmark for arbitration.

 

I'm certainly no labour exert but I'd be willing to bet this is the case.  The company is willing to accept the threat of a strike because they believe they will get back-to-work legislation, followed by arbitration with the eventual settlement being somewhere between the company's last offer and the pilot's last proposal.  The company apparently believes that the cost of this; bad press, etc makes it worthwhile to force the thing to arbitration rather than actually negotiating a contract.

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17 minutes ago, seeker said:

I'm certainly no labour exert but I'd be willing to bet this is the case.  The company is willing to accept the threat of a strike because they believe they will get back-to-work legislation, followed by arbitration with the eventual settlement being somewhere between the company's last offer and the pilot's last proposal.  The company apparently believes that the cost of this; bad press, etc makes it worthwhile to force the thing to arbitration rather than actually negotiating a contract.

A couple of caveats. In a first contract situation, back to work legislation is not required to send the dispute to arbitration. Secondly, it is not final offer arbitration. So while the arbitrator would logically find a middle ground between the two extremes, it does mean he has to find a median position. The goal is to give the parties two years to establish a viable working relationship. 

Here is description of how it might work.

 

C. Binding Arbitration and Settlement of First Agreements – Section 80

Binding arbitration may be imposed on parties that are required to enter into a first contract but have failed to do so. Section 80 of the Code grants the Minister of Labour the power to refer any dispute concerning negotiations for a first collective agreement to the Canada Industrial Relations Board for a determination. The Board, if it considers it appropriate, may settle the terms of a collective agreement, effectively imposing a first collective agreement on the parties. Where the Board does so, the agreement is effective for a two-year period. The parties may subsequently amend the terms of the agreement in writing during the two-year period.

The Board exercises the power to impose terms of settlement on the parties sparingly. It has held that imposing a collective agreement is done only in exceptional circumstances. (9) It has imposed agreements in situations where the negotiation process has broken down irreconcilably or where there is evidence of significant bad faith on the part of one or both of the parties such that continued negotiations would be pointless.

 

Clearly, there is wide interpretative scope here, for the government and the board. The board, for example, could determine that given the nature of the industry and the Westjet bargaining unit, hiring non-union pilots at Swoop constitutes bargaining in bad faith and is an obstacle to any negotiated settlement. Usually with first contract arbitrations, they are not meant to satisfy one side over the other, but provide a minimal framework the parties can amend by mutual agreement.

Edited by dagger

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8 hours ago, dagger said:

A couple of caveats. In a first contract situation, back to work legislation is not required to send the dispute to arbitration. Secondly, it is not final offer arbitration. So while the arbitrator would logically find a middle ground between the two extremes, it does mean he has to find a median position. The goal is to give the parties two years to establish a viable working relationship. 

Here is description of how it might work.

 

C. Binding Arbitration and Settlement of First Agreements – Section 80

Binding arbitration may be imposed on parties that are required to enter into a first contract but have failed to do so. Section 80 of the Code grants the Minister of Labour the power to refer any dispute concerning negotiations for a first collective agreement to the Canada Industrial Relations Board for a determination. The Board, if it considers it appropriate, may settle the terms of a collective agreement, effectively imposing a first collective agreement on the parties. Where the Board does so, the agreement is effective for a two-year period. The parties may subsequently amend the terms of the agreement in writing during the two-year period.

The Board exercises the power to impose terms of settlement on the parties sparingly. It has held that imposing a collective agreement is done only in exceptional circumstances. (9) It has imposed agreements in situations where the negotiation process has broken down irreconcilably or where there is evidence of significant bad faith on the part of one or both of the parties such that continued negotiations would be pointless.

 

Clearly, there is wide interpretative scope here, for the government and the board. The board, for example, could determine that given the nature of the industry and the Westjet bargaining unit, hiring non-union pilots at Swoop constitutes bargaining in bad faith and is an obstacle to any negotiated settlement. Usually with first contract arbitrations, they are not meant to satisfy one side over the other, but provide a minimal framework the parties can amend by mutual agreement.

Hi Dagger:

I seem to remember from previous posts that you have a background in labour relations.

Can you think of any actual situations were Section 80 has been invoked either by mutual agreement between the parties or imposed on the parties?

I have done some research and can’t find any instances.

Thanks

 

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10 hours ago, Ex 9A Guy said:

Hi Dagger:

I seem to remember from previous posts that you have a background in labour relations.

Can you think of any actual situations were Section 80 has been invoked either by mutual agreement between the parties or imposed on the parties?

I have done some research and can’t find any instances.

Thanks

 

It was only enacted in 2010 at the federal level. Several provinces have had it longer, and there are quite a few examples online.

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This article could well be entitled "what caused Unions at WestJet"

WestJet and Air Canada: How little separates the airlines anymore

As WestJet airline revamps its operations, the formerly scrappy upstart is becoming more and more like its rival, Air Canada, which has in turn adapted to be more like Westjet.

'Like it or not, WestJet is becoming much more like a large international carrier'

 
kyle-bakx.JPG
Kyle Bakx · CBC News · Posted: May 12, 2018 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: an hour ago
 
air-canada.jpg
At this stage, there are countless similarities between the two national airlines. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

When WestJet launched in early 1996, co-founder Clive Beddoe's strategy wasn't to go head to head with Air Canada, but instead to get people in Western Canada out of their cars and into the skies.

They started with three planes, 200 staff and cheap fares — like $29 from Calgary to Edmonton, taxes not included.

"Our classic market is going to be those who are driving. People who travel right now in their car. Our principal competitor is Ford or Toyota," Beddoe said at the time.

Competitors and analysts scoffed.

But WestJet has since grown far beyond those humble beginnings. The airline now has roughly 170 planes, 13,000 employees, and a flight schedule that criss-crosses North America and reaches into Europe and the Caribbean. 

Indeed, WestJet is now in a transformational stage as it becomes an international airline offering premium services. 

As the Calgary-based airline revamps its operations, the carrier is becoming more and more like its rival in Montreal, Air Canada, which has itself adapted over the years to be more like WestJet.

WestJet is currently grappling with a looming work stoppage as it negotiates its first union contract in the company's history. Air Canada was quick to say it'll try to help any stranded passengers, just like WestJet's offer when Air Canada hit serious labour pains in 2011.

 
westjet-and-air-canada-2017-numbers.jpg

The business direction of the airlines are becoming as aligned, as are their ticket prices. Those in the industry say differences between the two carriers are essentially non-existent.

Already, the reason some passengers will only fly with one particular airline is much more about collecting points than believing one carrier provides a particularly better experience.

 
air-canada-plane.jpg
Air Canada says it is prepared to boost its capacity in the event of a strike at rival WestJet. (Air Canada)

"People are very loyal to their frequent flyer program. They might complain here or there about the service, but if they have a frequent flyer program, they are very adamant about sticking with it," said Sandra Tompkins, a travel agent with TierOne Travel in Calgary.

WestJet's massive growth

At this point, Canada's two airlines have much more in common than separates them. 

"I can recall Clive Beddoe saying at one point, 'WestJet will never fly east of the Manitoba border.' Well, they are flying a lot further east," said Rick Erickson, an independent airline analyst who has attended many WestJet shareholder meetings over the years. "Like it or not, WestJet is becoming much more like a large international carrier."

ayarchivewestjet_2500kbps_852x480_12312679
CBC News Calgary
CBC Archives: WestJet begins flying, 1996
The air wars begin as WestJet begins flying later in the month. The story originally aired on February 5, 1996. 1:44

It has grown to the No.2 airline in Canada, with an increasing presence overseas. WestJet already flies across the Atlantic Ocean and is expected to launch trans-Pacific flights in 2019. And it won't be flying its traditional Boeing 737s, but premium seats on new Boeing Dreamliners — the same aircraft Air Canada started flying a few years ago.

To this point, WestJet offering flat beds in business class during a transcontinental flight was unimaginable, but CEO Ed Sims describes the Dreamliners as "a beacon for what the future holds." 
WestJet CEO Ed Sims says WestJet remains a low-fare airline, but the new Dreamliners will 'be driving our premium product offering.' (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

Culture change

In the early years of flying, the pilots, flight attendants and ground crews knew each other on a first-name basis. Now, the airline has around 13,000 employees. Pilots are threatening to strike, while flight attendants and ground crews could also unionize, just like at most other large carriers on the continent.

Employees are still owners, but the close-knit team atmosphere is fading.

"When you're a small little group, basically from the same cowboy culture in the same city, it's very easy to have a nice family culture within the airline. Believe me, WestJet took that an awful long ways," said Erickson. "Within WestJet there still is that strong service culture."

WestJet is even considering paying commission to its flight attendants on Swoop for in-flight sales such as food and drinks, just as Air Canada did several years ago.

The cabin crew shares seven per cent of sales on a flight, according to the union.

Experts say it shouldn't change the service passengers receive.

"Will they up-sell? I don't think so," said Fred Lazar, who follows airlines at York University's Schulich School of Business. "But they will at least be more eager to perform this task as compared to if they weren't given a cut."

At this stage, there are countless other similarities between the two airlines. They both offer bilingual service on the majority of flights, they both contract regional airlines to fly to smaller cities, and they both operate secondary economy airlines with WestJet's Encore and Air Canada's Rouge (both with a fleet of about 50 planes), among others.

On the labour front, the union representing Air Canada flight attendants is trying to organize WestJet cabin crews.

Mimic each other

It's often said WestJet is becoming more like Air Canada, but Canada's longstanding airline has itself taken a page out of its competitor's book on many occasions.

When WestJet makes an announcement, Air Canada quickly follows. A collusion lawsuit was even launched after Air Canada took just three days to match WestJet's decision to charge for checked bags.

So far, Air Canada has resisted following WestJet's latest move in launching an ultra-low-cost carrier. WestJet's Swoop will begin flying next month to counter several upstarts like Kelowna-based Flair Airlines.

WestJet still has to continue growing to reach the size of Air Canada, but the company has experienced quite the change for WestJet in particular with its modest beginning out west in the 1990s. Back then, Canadian Airlines was the number two airline in the country

"This little carrier that could is now a big carrier that can, and that's changed a variety of things," said Erickson.

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3 hours ago, Super 80 said:

C-GDMP (Tail 838) is on the KF Aerospace apron at YLW in Swoop colours.

How does pink look on a 737? I’m thinking faded pink will look really good down the road. 

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4 hours ago, Super 80 said:

C-GDMP (Tail 838) is on the KF Aerospace apron at YLW in Swoop colours.

C-GDMP Boeing 737-800 WestJet Apr 2015 W12Y156 2x CFM56-7 C04DDC   838
  • configured "Y174"
  • Ferried BFI-YYC 16. Apr 2015 on delivery
  • re-configured "W12Y156" Sep 2015
  • wfu 08. Apr 2018

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WestJet’s pilot troubles might be just the beginning of a very bumpy ride

With a pilots’ strike looming, Canada’s second-largest airline is facing a reckoning that industry experts say has been on the horizon for some time.

WestJet shares have fallen 25 per cent in value so far this year, including an 11 per cent nosedive last week as the carrier’s pilots voted in favour of strike action.
WestJet shares have fallen 25 per cent in value so far this year, including an 11 per cent nosedive last week as the carrier’s pilots voted in favour of strike action.  (RANDY RISLING / TORONTO STAR)
By MATT MCCLUREStarMetro Calgary
BRODIE THOMASStarMetro Calgary
Mon., May 14, 2018
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CALGARY—Call it turbulence that they just couldn’t go around.

WestJet Airlines could be mere days away from seeing its pilots walk out of the cockpit and onto the picket line.

Some industry experts say its labour woes are an inevitable hurdle for a fast-growing company that began as a low-cost upstart over two decades ago but now flies more than a third of the country’s passengers.

But one analyst warns the Calgary-based carrier could stumble badly if it doesn’t start taking a more realistic and enlightened view toward unionization drives involving their pilots and other employees.

 

AltaCorp Capital’s Chris Murray — who recently downgraded his rating of the company to underperform — said WestJet management’s plan to use an outside provider to staff its new, ultra-low-fare carrier Swoop is an “egregious shot across the bow” of its nascent pilots’ union that thumbs its nose at labour law and is almost certain to fail.

When the pilots were represented by an employee association, WestJet had agreed they would fly all of the company’s flights, Murray said in an interview with the Star.

 
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“But now that they want to unionize, they’ve said, ‘No that’s not the case and we’re going to hire third-party pilots at a different set of wage rates,’” he said.

“A lot of the pilots are saying, ‘Hang on! You’re actually displacing WestJet routes and using WestJet planes, so tell me how you’re not outsourcing my job.’”

The unit of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) representing 1,500 cockpit staff voted 91 per cent in favour of a strike last week, although it said it would hold off on any job action until after the Victoria Day weekend.

WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said the airline has made every effort since last summer to engage with the union in a constructive dialogue about Swoop so that company pilots can benefit when the new carrier starts operations next month.

“In the meantime, WestJet continues to work diligently with ALPA on a collective agreement...and we remain confident that we will come to an agreement that will benefit the pilots and the company as a whole,” Stewart said in a prepared answer to questions.

Barry Prentice, professor in the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba and an airline industry expert, believes the creation of Swoop was more about carving out a section of the market and scaring off other potential low-cost carriers.

“It’s more a threat tactic to reduce competition than it is necessarily a money-making opportunity for them,” he said. “If you have deep pockets and you have a diversified business, you can cross-subsidize a losing venture for a while.”

Prentice said WestJet started out as a copy of Southwest Airlines — North America’s largest low-cost airline — but it has grown to become a major national carrier over the last 22 years.

Now instead of point-to-point service, it is switching to a hub-and-spoke model, with Calgary as its major centre, and Vancouver and Toronto as two secondary hubs.

He’s not sure that there will be a synergy between that more traditional model and the airline’s proposed Swoop carrier once it’s up and running.

If anything, trying to do both at once has led WestJet pilots to organize and fight to protect their interests.

“This is really about evolution, we’re essentially going back to what we had 20-odd years ago when we had Canadian Air and Air Canada,” Prentice said.

Rob McFadyen, who heads the WestJet pilots union, said Swoop is a clear case of the carrier outsourcing work on routes normally flown by WestJet pilots.

“It’s certainly something we want to be addressed in the contract negotiations,” said McFadyen, adding he couldn’t think of a scenario where there could be a two-tiered system of pilots flying under WestJet.

As WestJet moves from the little airline that could to a national carrier, pilots aren’t the only staff looking to labour unions for help.

Hugh Pouliot, senior communications officer with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), confirmed that some members of WestJet’s cabin crew approached them with an interest in organizing, and the drive is now on.

He said that, in the early days, the company culture was employee-focused: employees were allowed, for example, to take some of their pay in company shares.

“The culture there has definitely changed — that’s what we’ve heard,” said Pouliot.

He said CUPE is encouraged by how the drive has gone so far.

WestJet shares have fallen 25 per cent in value so far this year, including an 11 per cent nosedive last week amid disappointing first-quarter results and concerns about the pilots walkout.

That concern has the airline predicting a two per cent drop in revenues per available seat mile this quarter, but Murray thinks the decrease could be double that.

WestJet also faces unionizing drives targeting its airport staff and baggage handlers.

Murray thinks a brief interruption at WestJet is possible due to a pilots strike, but he believes the federal government will legislate them back to work and possibly impose binding arbitration on the company rather than risk public ire from a prolonged stoppage that would see 35 per cent of air traffic in the country disrupted.

While getting a first contract is never easy, he said, the behaviour of WestJet during the recent two-month conciliation period, with its organizing pilots, suggests management doesn’t appreciate that the federal labour law governing the aviation sector is fairly friendly to employees who want to collectively bargain.

“WestJet showed up for 14 of 60 days, which begs the question of WestJet: ‘Guys are you actually taking this seriously?’” Murray said.

“What the guys at WestJet never understood is that you’re in Canada and you can’t jam a union.”

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1 hour ago, vrefplus5 said:

IMG-20180514-WA0008.jpg

So much for excess lease returns being used for Swoop flying. Tail 838 is a 2 ½ year old SFP -800 OWNED by WJ. 

Add that to the list of BS everyone has been fed. The lies just keep piling up. #Credibility gap. 

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Just now, Ex 9A Guy said:

So much for excess lease returns being used for Swoop flying. Tail 838 is a 2 ½ year old SFP -800 OWNED by WJ. 

Add that to the list of BS everyone has been fed. The lies just keep piling up. #Credibility gap. 

The excess returns are being used at WS to back fill the owned aircraft being transferred to Swoop to ensure there is still fleet growth at WS.

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7 hours ago, blues deville said:

How does pink look on a 737? I’m thinking faded pink will look really good down the road. 

The Pink Zip 737-200 didn't look that bad after sitting in Mojave for two years.

  • Like 1

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3 hours ago, spreadsheet said:

The excess returns are being used at WS to back fill the owned aircraft being transferred to Swoop to ensure there is still fleet growth at WS.

Maybe you should tell the CEO that.

Q. WHY IS LAUNCHING SWOOP GOO D FOR WESTJET?

A. [Ed Sims] Swoop will be operated using 10 of WestJet's Boeing 737-800 aircraft. If we kept these aircraft, it would’ve represented too much capacity for WestJet and still leave us unable to properly respond to other ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCCs) in the market. If we gave them back, there is such a shortage of aircraft in the market that there was a high likelihood those aircraft would’ve come right back to Canada and be operated by the competition. Launching Swoop gives us the right product to respond to ULCCs while WestJet continues to grow.

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