Frequently Asked Questions
We have accelerated our timeline to release a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) portion on the website due to the overwhelming demand for more information we have received in the first 24 hours of releasing the United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) website. We understand now that our goal of providing an alternative to the WestJet and Swoop bargaining unit is desired by a large number of our pilots and has reinforced why we started this process months ago. We will dedicate this page to posting questions we are receiving through the Contact Us form on the website, directly via our email link, or responding to information posted on social media and provide you with the pertinent information to make an educated decision. We hope this will allow you to filter out any misinformation being presented on various forms of social media, and we encourage you to seek out the facts so you can make an informed decision on who you want to represent you as the certified bargaining agent for the WestJet and Swoop pilot group.
May 15th, 2021
Q: Are the United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) allowed to become the WestJet and Swoop pilots certified bargaining agent? If so how?
A. The United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) are allowed to become the bargaining agent for the WestJet and Swoop bargaining unit. The application to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to become the certified trade union is limited to certain “open” periods. The United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) must sell enough membership cards to establish that the majority of WestJet and Swoop pilots prefer the United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) over our current representation. Membership evidence is good for six months. If for example the open period is October 1, 2021 then the United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) cannot apply until October 1, 2021 and there must be >50% support, as established by membership evidence and the $5.00 membership fee (plus any applicable service charges to collect the fee), within six months of October 1, 2021. Membership can predate the application for certification so long as date of membership is within 6 months of the date of the application. Below is an excerpt from the Justice Laws websiteregarding the Canada Labour Code and what the open periods to apply for certification are in our current situation:
(d) where a collective agreement applicable to the unit is in force and is for a term of more than three years, only after the commencement of the thirty-fourth month of its operation and before the commencement of the thirty-seventh month of its operation and, thereafter, only
(i) during the three month period immediately preceding the end of each year that the collective agreement continues to operate after the third year of its operation, and
(ii) after the commencement of the last three months of its operation.
Q. I was told the UPW are trying to decertify the pilot group, and this is a decertification drive? Is this true at all?
A. Absolutely not! The United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) are definitely not trying to decertify the pilot group. “Decertify” means to remove a bargaining unit from part 1 of the Canada Labour Code (CLC), the part which applies to unions. If this is happening now or has previously been attempted by anyone, the United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) have no knowledge of it.
The United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) wishes to gain status as your certified bargaining agent, still under part 1 of the CLC and be your new certified union, the organization responsible for negotiation and enforcement of your collective agreement. This is the singular foundational principle of the United Pilots of WestJet (UPW), and it can be found on all relevant documents such as our constitution, union cards and this website. It will be the basis of our application to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB), who will verify that all information is authentic and valid in support of our stated aim of becoming your CERTIFIED bargaining agent.
May 17th, 2021
Q. Can I get in trouble or be punished by the company or the current union for signing a UPW card?
A. No, you cannot. The law provides permission and even some protection allowing union organization to occur without persecution. Your current union is however, permitted to present arguments to members and at the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) in support of their wish to retain bargaining rights. You can expect your current representatives to increase their communication and try and convince you not to switch unions. Please contact us when assessing the merits of conflicting positions or information. We will do our best to provide you the facts which will enable informed decision-making. Union organization cannot interfere with work so we must do it on our free time. Also due to COVID-19 and the increased restrictions on gatherings across the country we will primarily use our website and social media to provide you with pertinent information you will need for the time being until restrictions are lifted.
It is vital to understand that there will almost certainly be consequences for defamation or for violating company social media policy, or any kind of personal attacks against anyone, whether it be derogatory comments or physical or verbal abuse. The United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) will not hesitate to employ legal means to ensure that no harassment of any kind is perpetrated against our members, and equally, we categorically will not condone any such activity by our members.
Q. What does WestJet think of this?
A. We do not know at this point. We have had no contact with company management whatsoever regarding this endeavour, nor will we until we are selected as the legal bargaining agent, by you, at which time we will commence a bargaining relationship. The Canada Labour Code (CLC) clearly establishes that the right to organize and select a union is solely that of employees and that the company may only verify who is in the bargaining unit.
May 19th, 2021
Q. Who are the players behind the UPW? I would like to know more about who you are.
A. We do appreciate the fact that the people involved are very important to everyone. We will be updating the website on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page in the course of the next few weeks, and we will release the names of the individuals involved. Going forward into the next phases, we will need volunteers to help behind the scenes assisting with various organizational requirements. We are also reaching out to the greater group of United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) supporters in the coming months for people willing to hold interim leadership positions, which will just be placeholders until the UPW Executive are elected. If you can volunteer in any capacity, please reach us now via the Contact Us form on the website.
Our constitution will be available in the coming weeks as well so our pilot group can review the structure we are proposing. We firmly believe the value proposition is very good for our pilot group and will be incredibly difficult to match. At this point in time, we want our pilot group to understand that it is YOU who will ultimately decide who leads our pilot group by democratically electing the UPW Executive within the United Pilots of WestJet. We hope our pilot group feels this is fundamental to our future success as well. While some of the steering committee may run for office, the majority are simply pilots who recognized a need to change our trajectory and were willing to commit their time and support to building a structure to serve WestJet and Swoop pilots in the decades ahead.
Q. The difference in UPW dues compared to what we currently pay is barely any different. The difference is only going to be about $500 per year isn’t it?
A. There will be a considerable difference in union dues that are paid over the course of a year and when factored over the course of a career it will be substantial. The United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) are only collecting 1.25% based on what would be your straight time earnings for the year. There will not be any dues charged on your cash equivalent payment, Owners Performance Award (OPA), profit sharing, premium pay, overtime, or shift trade additions. We will also NOT be charging union dues for anyone who is collecting the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). Your union dues will still be tax deductible, the same as they are now. We have provided some examples below based on your straight time salary at WestJet and Swoop and cash equivalent payment for WestJet pilots only to show the direct savings you will see per year; you will take home more money.
WestJet Dues Difference
B737 FO Step 10 $1410.46 -$812.29
B737 CA Step 12 $2523.56 -$1401.81
B787 FO Step 11 $1770.37 -$985.05
B787 CA Step 12 $2929.50 -$1596.67
Swoop Dues Difference
B737 FO Step 3 $905.29 -$434.54
B737 CA Step 3 $1554.08 -$745.95
May 23rd, 2021
Q. I am currently laid off by WestJet/Swoop, do I get to vote on future changes to our union and can I join the UPW still? Is it true I wouldn’t have to pay union dues while I am on the CEWS even though I am paying union dues now? I am interested in what the UPW is proposing but I need some clarification.
A. Yes! All of the furloughed pilots of the WestJet and Swoop bargaining unit will have the opportunity to vote on matters of certification. You will be invited to sign a membership card indicating that your choice of union representation is the United Pilots of WestJet (UPW).
You will NOT pay union dues to the United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) until you are recalled into a position at WestJet or Swoop. The United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) do not believe that furloughed pilots on a federal wage subsidy, currently the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), should be expected to support their union financially when they themselves have been negatively impacted by layoffs.
Q. I think the UPW is the right path for Westjet and Swoop pilots. Can furloughed pilots volunteer for duties with the UPW?
A. Yes! We need supporters and volunteers, especially furloughed pilots. This will be your union too, and it will reflect your priorities and values best if you are an active participant. Also, it’s very challenging to reach pilots on furlough right now due to the pandemic, so it’s vital that everyone helps us spread the message to people they know, so they too can make informed decisions about their future as a WestJet and/or Swoop pilot.
Please know that the United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) have great concern for our pilots and their well-being, and we are eagerly looking forward to flying with you again very soon.
June 2nd, 2021
Q. How are we going to fund the next collective agreement negotiations?
A. As a certified in-house union, we will keep 100% of our revenues within our pilot group for the benefit of our pilot group. We will not have unnecessary expenditures and our legal team will be engaged only when necessary for their expertise to keep the negotiation on track and minimize unnecessary costs. Unlike other systems where the pilot group only retains a fraction of their own revenues, we will retain ALL of ours to allocate where necessary. Negotiations is indeed one of the major items which a union has to fund, and our union due’s structure is built to support this.
Although there are inherent costs involved, we also need to recognize that simply throwing money at negotiations is not a recipe for success. It is equally critical the costs be backed by a democratic and transparent process, and we believe we have arrived at a formula which will work for our pilot group. Most importantly it can also be amended by our pilot group without interference from other pilot groups with competing values.
We have developed a preliminary budget and we will be putting money aside for additional negotiation expenses each month. We will have access to enough money, even for a contentious prolonged negotiation if that is what happens.
June 3rd, 2021
Q. What would happen to the PTA if the UPW is elected?
A. The Pilot Transfer Letter of Agreement forms part of the current collective agreement. If the United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) is certified as the bargaining agent for the WestJet and Swoop pilots, we will inherit the responsibility to administer all provisions of the collective agreement, including the Pilot Transfer Letter of Agreement. The Pilot Transfer Letter of Agreement can only be changed under the conditions outlined in Section 11 AMENDMENTS AND EFFICTIVE DATE. The United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) will not seek to change the Pilot Transfer Letter of Agreement unless it is the wish of the majority of its members, as expressed through surveys and/or votes. The United Pilots of WestJet (UPW) constitution currently permits the Pilot Transfer Letter of Agreement without modification to the Constitution. We need to work together to best represent the pilots within the WestJet Group of Companies.
June 4th, 2021
Q. Is the UPW trying to represent WestJet Encore pilots too?
A. No. The CIRB has determined that WestJet and Swoop pilots belong to one bargaining unit and WestJet Encore pilots to a separate bargaining unit. This was done based on the mutual agreement between our current union and the company and with the concurrence of the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB). We are unable to change it currently or in the foreseeable future.
June 21, 2021
Q. What is the role of the Steering Committee? Will it remain or be disbanded?
A. The Steering Committee will be Disbanded. Think of it as a group of people who assembled to build a professional guild-hall. You need architects, stonemasons and electricians. We are those people.
Like you, we saw our veto over Swoop discarded, we saw the effectively unilateral WAWCON package which was delivered, the loss of up to 130 jets scoped off of the WestJet OC, we experienced the loss of over 35 valuable contractual items, and we see the nearly continuous state of conflict our representatives are embroiled in. We know this will not carry us forward and we saw a need to construct an alternative which can reverse the trajectory we are on.
We still have some work to do: the constitution has just launched, so now people can assess what it is we propose in more detail and provide feedback. We are engaged in many discussions like this one. Membership card sales will take place over the next five months and there is regulatory work which goes with the CIRB application. Our role is to accomplish this work and support the volunteers who work alongside us.
Once the UPW is certified as our bargaining agent, the work of the steering committee is done. There is no constitutionally defined role for the Committee so it will disband organically.
Many of us will volunteer to assist in our individual capacity on committees, especially during the transition, but some just wish to be members. A few may run for elected positions within the UPW but most probably will not.
In terms of the guild-hall metaphor, we will be turning over the building and all its systems to the new owners; the pilots of WestJet and Swoop. They will elect their chosen leaders and form committees and take charge of their constitution.
Q. Why is the Pilot’s Advocacy Society required?”
A. Strictly speaking, it isn’t required at all. The Canada Labour Code does not specify how we conduct our affairs up to the point of certification, as long as certain things are accomplished: constitution and bylaws adopted, purpose of proposed union disclosed, zero influence by Company and a few other things which establish what we intend to do.
We could easily have just remained an un-named, un-specified affiliation of individuals who met to provide a democratic alternative to our current union; like the PPA drive or even the ALPA OC for that matter (named but no status). We chose to incorporate as a non-profit society for several reasons: it’s easy and economical and the framework of a society provides a common methodology for conducting affairs in a way which people easily understand (Roberts’s rules of order, etc.) Incorporation allows a society to conduct business with banks and the CRA (for example) via a mechanism they are familiar with. It also provides limited liability to members and directors of the organization in case hostile or predatory behavior is levied toward them for their work on behalf of the society.
UPW has been crystal-clear in communicating that we will certify under the United Pilots of Westjet brand. This information will also be provided on membership cards. The Society will be rolled up once the United Pilots of WestJet is certified as the legal representative of Westjet and Swoop pilots. Until that point, it serves the purposes outlined above. It’s just a better, more professional way of handling the interim business of organizing a grass-roots union prior to certification, in our opinion. It’s entirely seamless from the vantage point of the member: already paid for, nothing else required of members, no additional liability, more security.
June 26, 2021
Q. Where are we in the process and what can we expect next?
A. Much has been accomplished to get to this point: we looked at different pilot union structures to determine what works, what doesn’t and why, and then designed the pieces of our system to avoid the known pitfalls. Constitution, research, web platform and security are now done and functional. The rollout of information is in progress.
Now that the constitution has been presented, we are in an “Education and Dialogue Phase”. We ask that you look at the information presented with a view to how it will help us course-correct effectively. Consider how things like requiring answers to member questions, sharing of surveys, election/recall of union leaders only by our pilots and mandatory votes on MOAs are very different than what we have now and how they can be expected to propel the best course of action. Compare the prospect of reduced dues, only on guaranteed straight time earnings and how the savings will add up across the span of your remaining career. Even more importantly, think about how much more effective our pilot group can be with complete control over all of our funding. We welcome your questions and any constructive feedback on how to make our organization best suit the needs of WestJet and Swoop pilots.
The “Membership Phase” will begin soon (summer 2021). Any cards signed this year will now remain valid throughout the first “Open Period”, the period which the Canada Labour Code has designated for changing unions. For us, that’s the last 90 days of 2021. You will be invited to sign a United Pilots of WestJet union card.
This will lead to the “Certification Phase”, which will occurs during the Open Period (last 3months of 2021) when we are legally permitted to present our application for certification to the CIRB be our union cards to demonstrate that the UPW is the preferred choice of representation of WestJet and Swoop pilots.
August 17, 2021
Q. I haven’t heard much from UPW lately. The last two union drives had a constant stream of campaign promises, videos, even offers of a drive to the terminal from the parking lot. What is the status of your campaign?
A. You are right; out of respect for our pilots, we haven’t been inundating you with relentless campaigning, promising all things to all people. Nor have we been harassing you on flights or demonizing the people who hold positions within our current union. We’ve all had enough of that. What we have done is publish succinct information on our website, and we opened up a conduit for questions and discussion, which many of you joined. The “Information and Dialogue” phase is nearly complete and we will soon move into the “Membership Phase” of the campaign. We have presented our constitution to our pilot group and we have clearly communicated exactly what we propose: a Part 1 union of only WJ pilots with total control of our own funding and constitution (like American, Southwest and Air Canada pilots).
Q. What response has the UPW received; what have you heard?
A. Response has been EXTREMELY POSITIVE! We have had nearly 100% favorable response to our constitution, particularly the transparency and accountability requirements (questions answered , surveys shared). Same for our structure requiring all executives to be elected by the pilot group rather than by a half dozen delegate-reps. There has been pretty much unanimous acceptance of UPW’s requirement to hold votes on all MOAs. The opportunity to stop paying outrageous dues for a substandard contract has been met with relief and hope. Reading comments from pilots has been quite heartwarming. Several respondents caught editorial errors which were then addressed at a UPW general meeting. The corrected constitution and bylaws have been posted on our website for some weeks and seem to have met universal approval. We thank respondents for bringing these details to our attention. There were a couple of negative comments: One person said our current representation must never be challenged, even though the Canada Labour Code specifically allows ineffective unions to be replaced and the Charter guarantees our freedom of association. Another person thought that only our current representative should have access to company funding for flight release and that WestJet pilots should pay for all flight release through increased dues if they decide to switch to a different bargaining agent.
Q. What happens now?
A. We are nearly finished preparations for the of rollout of our on-line membership card sales programme. Due to uncertainty regarding how covid protocols might change from day to day across different jurisdictions, pilots still on furlough, and sporadic schedules for others, a web-based membership sales system is required. Such systems are fairly complex and take time to set up due to the security protocols, but we are nearly there. Finally, we respect our pilots‘ wishes to take their own time to assess the merits of the United Pilots of Westjet’s platform compared to the track record and cost of our current representative, the negative trajectory we are on and the probability of another failed contract like the last one.