WestJet dispatchers seek to unionize

The Canadian Airline Dispatchers Association have filed an application with the Canada Industrial Relations Board to represent dispatchers at WestJet.
The Canadian Airline Dispatchers Association have filed an application with the Canada Industrial Relations Board to represent dispatchers at WestJet. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Flight dispatchers at WestJet are the latest group of employees at the airline seeking to join a union.

The Canadian Airline Dispatchers Association (CALDA) said in a release that they have filed an application with the Canada Industrial Relations Board to represent dispatchers at the carrier.

"As WestJet continues to grow and evolve, WestJet flight dispatchers believed it was essential to evaluate which employee representation model was best suited to represent flight dispatchers," CALDA said.

A published report said there are about 78 dispatchers at WestJet. A company spokesperson has said the airline respects the rights of the dispatchers to choose their representation.

 The association said it already represents dispatchers for Air Canada, Jazz Airlines, First Air, Sunwing and Air Transat. CALDA said adding the WestJet dispatchers brings its membership to almost 300.

Dispatchers are licensed by Transport Canada and share dispatch responsibilities with the pilot in command, the association said. Dispatchers draw up flight plans by factoring in weather, airspace, aircraft weight and fuel needs.

In late July, about 3,000 WestJet cabin crew members became officially unionized after the Canada Industrial Relations Board issued an interim order naming the Canadian Union of Public Employees as the certified bargaining unit for employees.

WestJet and its unionized pilots avoided a labour disruption in late May when they agreed to a settlement process through the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The two sides agreed to mediation, and possibly binding arbitration.