Strike vote could lead to job action by WestJet mechanics at Pearson Airport in Mississauga, Ontario


Published May 1, 2024 at 10:15 am

WestJet mechanics prepare for strike vote, Pearson Airport in Mississauga.

Mechanics who work for Canada’s second-largest airline will take a strike vote starting Thursday that could lead to job action by the group at Pearson Airport in Mississauga and other airports across the country.

In a joint statement late Tuesday, WestJet and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which represents the carrier’s aircraft maintenance engineers, said the strike vote will take place May 2-9 via email.

In separate correspondence to union members, WestJet and union leaders said the company tabled a “comprehensive proposal” last Friday and that negotiating sessions between the two sides will continue tomorrow through Saturday.

In a joint letter to the aircraft mechanics and related skilled employees/technical operations support members dated April 26, WestJet and AMFA said that “in the coming weeks of negotiations, we are determined to make every reasonable effort to achieve contractual wages and work rules commensurate with your skills.”

Union leaders added, though, that to date, “the company persists in its failure to submit written proposals” related to adequately improving wages, benefits, layoff/recall and “quality of life work rules.”

If members vote to strike, work action could begin any time after May 9.

Workers staged an information picket on April 18 at Canada’s biggest and busiest airport.

The union contends “wages have been suppressed” in Canada for several years. In an earlier online negotiations update, the mechanics association said an offer from WestJet in March that included wage increases of 3.5, 2, 2, 1 and 1 per cent over five years is not acceptable.

The union also is not pleased with current benefits being provided to its members.

Calgary-based WestJet operates many of its flights out of Pearson Airport. Company executives said in a recent internal memo made public the airline is preparing for a strike of its mechanics by “actively developing business continuity plans to minimize operational disruption should labour action occur …”

AMFA national president Bret Oestreich said in the union’s earlier online update, prior to last week, that WestJet should be getting ready for a strike.

“We are the engineers who keep WestJet’s planes airworthy and flying,” he said. “Given the expected rate of inflation, the proposal (from WestJet) actually constitutes a wage reduction with a continued chokehold on industry wages for these skilled professionals. If that is WestJet’s offer, then yes, the carrier should be preparing for a strike.”

Meanwhile, a two-week strike of workers at a large airline catering company located near Pearson ended earlier this week.

Some 800 workers at Gate Gourmet who supply meals and beverages to passengers on departing flights ratified a deal to get them back on the job.

(Cover photo: Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association X)

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