Canada’s friendly skies are mostly operated by union workers

For those who choose to fly union, Canada is a great place to live. All of our major airlines and many of our smaller regional airlines are at least partially organized, with news that Westjet’s pilots have now voted to sign on with the Air Line Pilots Association.  They join Air Transat, Canadian North, Calm Air, First Air and a host of other smaller regional airlines. 

ALPA represents more than 59,000 pilots at 33 US and Canadian airlines.  The outlier is Air Canada, whose pilots are represented by a staff association, the Air Canada Pilots Association. The association represents 3,600 pilots who fly for Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge, including freighters, though it is not affiliated with any central union body or the CLC.  Many baggage handlers and mechanics are represented by the International Association of Machinists or the Teamsters.

Most of these airlines’ flight attendants are also union, mostly with CUPE which has an airline division which represents 11,500 members. Westjet’s flight attendants are unorganized outliers, though CUPE is currently conducting an organizing drive among its 3,000 members. And Air North's pilots aare organized by the Yukon Emnployees Association and their flight attendants are PSAC.  Their ground crew redently joined the Steelworkers Union.

Most major US-based airlines are also unionized, among them Alaska, Delta, United, Southwest, US Airways, American and FedEx. An exception is fervently anti-union Jetblue with no union pilots, flight attendants or ground crew.  All the others, except Delta, have unions representing flight attendants and ground crew.

Dec. 8, 2017