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WestJet Pilots Give Union A Strike Mandate

Pilots at WestJet Airlines have voted to give the union representing them a strike mandate and could walk off the job ahead of the busy summer travel season.

The Air Line Pilots Association said its 1,600 WestJet pilots can launch a strike as early as May 16, which is a week before the May long weekend that unofficially starts summer in Canada.

The pilots’ issues revolve around job protection, pay, and scheduling at WestJet and its discount subsidiary Swoop. Since 2022, more than 300 pilots have left WestJet for other airlines, the union said.

Around 95% of pilots took part in the strike vote, with 93% of them voting to give the union a strike mandate.

WestJet said in a written statement that strike authorizations are a common step taken by unions during labour negotiations and that the vote does not mean a strike will actually happen.

Talks between the pilots’ union and the airline are continuing through the federal mediation process, which is scheduled to end on April 24 followed by a three-week break before any strike action could occur.

WestJet is privately held, and its stock does not trade on a public exchange.