Uniformed WestJet pilots will walk an information picket line outside WestJet’s Calgary headquarters on Tuesday as part of their campaign to ramp up pressure on the airline. The pilots are in a legal position to strike on May 19 as talks toward a first contract founder. The pilots, represented by the Airline Pilots Association, have been deadlocked with the company for months. A 60-day conciliation period ended in late April and a 21-day cooling off period ends on May 19, after which the pilots can strike.
WestJet was founded with non-union personnel in all aspects of the operation and stayed non-union for 20 years. As it expanded into an international carrier, several unionization drives were unsuccessful but ALPA got the certification vote it needed in 2017. The strike threat comes at an awkward time for WestJet as it gets ready to launch its Swoop ultra low cost carrier in June. The airline claims those plans are unaffected by the labour situation.