Unifor Local 531, which represents 350 customer service and baggage agents at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, has ratified its first collective agreement with WestJet.
The ratification vote, which took place on May 3, was overwhelmingly in favour of the agreement, which will begin on June 1, 2023 and expire on December 31, 2026.
The agreement includes wage increases of between 8.4% and 20% within the first year of the contract, additional wage increases of 2% on January 1 each year until 2026, paid breaks, and more stable schedules with eight-week schedules. In addition, full-time workers will receive 12 paid sick days and part-time workers will receive 10.
The agreement also includes defined scope work language, a grievance procedure, and the establishment of a Unifor Women’s Advocate position.
“Given the challenges for workers in the aviation sector coming out of the pandemic and the constant upheaval at airports across the country, workers know how important having a say over their working conditions is. This first agreement will be the foundation for better and decent work,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne.
Unifor President of Local 531 Karen Berry added, “We’re excited to deliver these gains to our members. We are looking forward to having the YYZ (Toronto) members join their coworkers in YVR (Vancouver) and YYC (Calgary). Together, there is power in a union.”
Bargaining began on October 24, 2022, after the Canada Industrial Relations Board certified Unifor’s application for the WestJet workers in Toronto to join the union last July. Unifor represents 16,000 members across Canada in the aviation sector, including approximately 1,300 at WestJet in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.