The union representing pilots for the WestJet Group, which includes Westjet and Swoop, could strike as soon as May 19 because of an ongoing labor dispute with the airline.
“Today the WestJet Pilots MEC issued a 72 hours strike notice. If no progress is made, we could withdraw our services at 0300 MT on May 19th, 2023. Our negotiating committee remains available 24/7 to reach a deal,” the WestJet ALPA said in a statement on social media on Monday.
After voting to approve a strike in April, the pilots have been picketing nationwide, including in Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto, as negotiations with WestJet continued to stall. The pilots said earlier this month that, even with a 21-day cooling off period, it expected to be “in a legal position to commence job action on May 16, should management continue to stall negotiations" and after a few days of failed negotiations, the union issued the 72-hour notice on Monday.
While the news doesn't necessarily mean a strike will occur, WestJet says that it the coming does it will "take all necessary actions to manage the impacts as much as possible." That includes operating a reduced schedule, proactively managing changes and cancellations, and allowing flexible change and cancel options to its flyers.
According to WestJet, should flight delays or cancellations occur because of the strike, impacted guests will be refunded or re-accommodated.
The WestJet pilots are pushing for a new contract with “job security and career progression,” along with better pay and scheduling, which was achieved by Delta Air Lines pilots earlier this year and is now seen as a standard for these kinds of negotiations throughout the industry.
American Airlines pilots, for instance, cited the Delta deal during its negotiations. Those pilots voted to authorize a strike mandate earlier this year during negotiations. However, a full pilot strike would require permission from the federal National Mediation Board and are increasingly rare in the U.S.