CanadaEH
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Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 5:53 am

Effort On To Unionize Westjet Flight Attendants

Wed Oct 22, 2003 4:54 pm

Effort on to unionize WestJet flight attendants

CALGARY (CBC) - The Teamsters are trying to sign up WestJet's flight attendants in an attempt to become the first union at the discount airline.

A spokesman for the union says they were contacted by disgruntled employees, who want better wages and job security. But most industry watchers don't think the union has a chance, because even though WestJet's wages are lower, it offers profit-sharing and plans to help employees buy shares.

"In WestJet's case, they've been very, very smart about managing the culture, selecting the people with can-do, get-up-and-go attitudes, and ensuring everybody in the organization benefits from profit-sharing," Douglas Reed, a Queen's Univeristy professor who studies the airline industry, said.

WestJet's third-quarter results, released Monday, show profits up 40 per cent.

A similar attempt by CUPE to unionize the flight attendants in 1998 failed.

WestJet spokeswoman Siobhan Vinnish is confident the employees will reject the union attempt.

"At this point in time, we think we've been successful the way we are," she said. "And we hope our communications between all our people are strong and effective. That it works well for our company and our culture."



EH.
 
Guest

RE: Effort On To Unionize Westjet Flight Attendants

Wed Oct 22, 2003 10:21 pm

Hard to say which way this issue is going to go, but I can't say that I'm surprised at all that it has materialized. WJ's FA wages are indeed low (but these FA's knew the wage scale when joining this carrier), and as far as the profit sharing deal for employees go, the heyday of the big bucks has decreased as the infrastructure and size of WJ has grown and evolved, so the share-buy deal is not as lucrative as it once was, especially back in 96, when many of the original employees acquired quite the tidy nest egg.

A unionized FA bargaining unit (if successful) would no doubt lead to the
attempts and possible success of the organizing of the other WJ labour divisions, and then, POP goes the WJ financial weasel.

In all fairness, the WJ employees do have a great CEO in Clive Beddoe; the man is no Robert Milton, but, Mr. Beddoe cannot be totally surprised that this is happening.

As a matter of fact, I have often wondered just how long the current WJ infrastructure can survive. As the carrier evolves, so does its employees. They also age, and if WJ is to survive for the long-haul, then sooner or later (the average WJ employee is relatively young-youngish) it may have no choice but to implement serious employee pension plans, etc. In short, this low cost Canadian carrier may well have some high overhead to look forward to in the perhaps not-so-far future. I could be wrong here, but I don't think I am too far off the mark.

 
Goose
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Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2003 3:40 am

RE: Effort On To Unionize Westjet Flight Attendants

Wed Oct 22, 2003 11:00 pm

I know that WestJet's upper management do sit down with front-line employees like FAs to speak with them about issues that they're having. Problems... that is, reasonable ones ... are probably dealt with promptly. I've seen this with employees in other WS departments - Ramp, CSA, and so on. The management at WS is quite pro-active, as far as I've seen....

And wages? As I was told, WestJet does have regular studies on how they pay their people, and how it compares to other companies in similar markets. They take some examples, and then take 95% of the median wage. That's median, not average.... so if the examples they take are these;

Airline A: $10/hr
Airline B: $12/hr
Airline C: $15/hr
Airline D: $19/hr
Airline E: $25/hr

Then they'll take 95% of $15/hr, as that is the median wage. Everyone knows this as they get into the company - and everyone knows that the reason they're paid as such is because it's important for WestJet's competitive advantage. Besides, the WS ESP plan is supposedly quite generous, and allows for people to put quite a bit of money away in a short period of time.
"Talk to me, Goose..."
 
Guest

RE: Effort On To Unionize Westjet Flight Attendants

Wed Oct 22, 2003 11:02 pm

Another note: As the article states above, WJ management appears to have a healthy, positive relationship with its collective labour force. By all accounts, there seems to be a very open and direct line of communication between management and the labour groups...or "group" as WJ really does seem to emphasize the idea of teamwork. Robbie, you listening?

However, one would have to know and speak with the WJ employees to understand just what their position is, aside from the P.R. issued releases and articles. Friends of mine who fly WJ on a semi-frequent basis claim the FA's appear to be a relatively happy and content group....in the cabin, that is.
Like I said, who knows what the sentiment is behind the scenes?

I dunno, my gut tells me Clive Beddoe and his team are good eggs. I'm sure he provides his employees with the best deal he can, given the fact WJ is a low cost carrier.
 
Dash8King
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Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2001 8:45 am

RE: Effort On To Unionize Westjet Flight Attendants

Wed Oct 22, 2003 11:25 pm

and as far as the profit sharing deal for employees go, the heyday of the big bucks has decreased as the infrastructure and size of WJ has grown and evolved, so the share-buy deal is not as lucrative as it once was, especially back in 96,

I have to disagree Westjets stock price has doubled this year it went down to something like $13.85 in may, it is now $27 any employee who put $10k in WJA would be very happy today. Although your right it is not as lucrative today they can still make great money.
 
lymanm
Posts: 1100
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2001 2:30 pm

RE: Effort On To Unionize Westjet Flight Attendants

Wed Oct 22, 2003 11:27 pm

Delta has managed to keep their FAs ununionized, so I would very surprised if WJ's talented management team would not be able to accomplish the same. Furthermore, WJ is more profitable than Delta; the attraction of profit sharing, though diminished, still exists and can enable long term financial security if managed properly.
buhh bye
 
Guest

RE: Effort On To Unionize Westjet Flight Attendants

Thu Oct 23, 2003 1:13 am

Out of curiosity, does anyone know how many Flight Attendants WJ currently
has "on the line"?
 
CanadaEH
Topic Author
Posts: 1331
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 5:53 am

RE: Effort On To Unionize Westjet Flight Attendants

Thu Oct 23, 2003 6:58 am

I believe there are about 1300 FA's right now.

I also have to disagree with the stock issue. I've watched my stock more than double in one year. My company has also matched me in purchasing stock. Obviously if I had purchased stock way back in 1998 when they opened at $10 (and have since split twice) and are now sitting at $27, I would certainly be better off. But again, my stocks have doubled this year so I really don't have anything to complain about.

The union drive has been going on for almost five years now. I really don't think this time is going to be any different. I work with FA's everyday and I never ever see one who is bitter, pissed off, or angry. Sure, we all want more money as employees but the majority of us realize that we get paid what we do to stay competitive. For those who believe otherwise, they have obviously not been paying attention to what has been going on over at Air Canada or have bought into some unions BS.

If a part of Westjet wants to unionize, the company will strip them of any benefits right down to the bare bone. That's no profit-share, and no employee share purchase program. Knowing that those two benefits would be stripped away from an employee is good reason NOT to unionize. I hope those flying up in the sky realize that.
EH.