WestJet Encore pilots are getting ready to bargain their second collective agreement, according to a press release shared by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) on Tuesday (Sept. 5).
In the release, the ALPA revealed that it has filed notice to open contract negotiations with the regional carrier for WestJet.
“Our pilot group leaders and Negotiating Committee have been working hard over the last several months to come in fully prepared on day one of negotiations,” said Capt. Carin Kenny, WestJet Encore MEC chair, in the release. “While the [WestJet Encore Master Executive Council] (MEC) remains optimistic that we can negotiate a fair contract with management in a reasonable amount of time, we are only half of the equation.”
The association says WestJet Encore needs to give its nearly 400 pilots improvements on seniority, career recognition and career progression.
“While wages and working conditions are a major focus for most labour negotiations, it is crucial for management to understand that without any drastic improvement on career progression, seniority, and career recognition, there is no reason for an Encore pilot to stay,” Kenny stated. “Unfortunately, despite a mass exodus of pilots from our ranks already this year, management has been unwilling to address the main concerns of the Encore pilots or provide a solution we all know would fix their problems and ours.”
With contract talks now set to formally begin, the WestJet Encore pilots will face “important decisions” during contract negotiations in the coming months, the ALPA said.
Calgary-based WestJet Encore is the regional carrier for WestJet Airlines and fourth largest operator of the Q400 series. It currently flies to nearly 40 destination across Canada.
WestJet’s mainline pilots ratified a new four-year employment contract on in June with “industry-leading” pay increases, strong job-security protections, and scheduling and quality-of-life improvements.
Under the new agreement, WestJet pilots will receive a 24 per cent pay bump over four years, as well as a cumulative 8.5 per cent boost to hourly wages over the remainder of the contract, from 2024 through 2026.