WestJet operations remain unimpacted by AMFA ratification results

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), the certified union representing WestJet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers and other tech ops employees under the bargaining unit, announced that its membership did not ratify the tentative agreement, reached on May 5, 2024.

The results of the ratification do not impact operations.

“The failed ratification of the tentative agreement by our aircraft maintenance engineers and other tech ops employees under the bargaining unit is deeply concerning after what was a lengthy and challenging negotiation process with the union,” said Diederik Pen, president of WestJet Airlines and group chief operating officer. “The tentative agreement was fair, offered substantial improvements and would have made them the best paid Aircraft Maintenance Engineers in the country. It was also reflective of our commitment to addressing their priorities, while balancing what is financially sustainable for our business.”

Overwhelming “no vote”

Aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs) rejected a tentative agreement with WestJet Airlines by an overwhelming 97.25 per cent no vote.

MFA National President Bret Oestreich stated that, based on member communications to date, the leading causes for rejection are economic and WestJet’s bad faith bargaining tactics throughout the negotiation process.

“WestJet has admitted that they cannot hire qualified engineers at the rates it is paying. Positions are unfilled, and AMEs are resigning.  Grounded planes are piling up.  Still, WestJet’s final offer was more than 30 per cent below the prevailing rate at North American carriers.”

“Members were particularly bitter with the bad faith at the negotiating table. For months at a time, WestJet refused to respond to Union proposals.  Frequently, WestJet rejected our proposals without an explanation or with the disdainful rationale that AMEs were not entitled to the same benefits or work rules as pilots.  The airline violated the status quo mandated by the Canada Labour Code by outsourcing maintenance work and reducing benefits. WestJet’s lack of respect for its AMEs contributed mightily to the contract rejection.”

Next steps for ratification

This week, AMFA will survey the membership to ascertain the revisions that must be made to the TA to achieve ratification.

“WestJet needs to offer a compensation package that reflects the AMEs’ indispensable contribution to the airline’s safe operations; otherwise, these AMEs will simply pack up and take their skills elsewhere,” said Oestreich.

“WestJet Airlines has major problems retaining experienced licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers while trying to adequately staff positions throughout their Technical Operations department. This is not the time to disregard the value of skilled professionals and miss an opportunity for the Company to be an innovator in negotiations affecting the industry. WestJet is a profitable airline. It is time for it to invest to ensure that it can hire and retain the best and brightest AMEs in the industry.”

“We are committed to meeting with AMFA to determine next steps, although it is important to realize that the financial scope of the first tentative agreement must remain intact. Our goal remains to find a viable and reasonable path forward,” concluded Pen.