Women’s Leadership in Canadian Airports — Karla Bertling, Heather Botelho and Devin Glass

For Women’s History Month, we want to take the time to talk about women’s leadership in the Canadian airports. Women face barriers related to preconceived notions of women’s abilities. Stereotyping has always prevented women from moving into leadership positions. There lack female role models at the top levels of business today. UCTE has a history-making event.

Our union, for some time now, has seen change. Over the past year, several women have stepped forward and are now presidents of their local. It is a first that so many women lead in airports. Let us introduce you to some outstanding women.

Karla Bertling — Windsor Airport

Karla Bertling is the President of Local 00012. In addition to caring for the members of this local, Sister Bertling is an accounting clerk for the Windsor Airport. She has been working there for six years. Prior to becoming president, Karla was the secretary of the local. She worked hard for a better working environment for her brothers and sisters. She was relentless in her efforts, which saw her recently elected as President. Her hard work has been recognized by her colleagues.

Her job as an accounting clerk consists of managing accounts payable as well as preparing items for accounts receivable, and managing funds. She also sits on the Health and Safety Committee. In addition to being a fire warden, she holds a first aid certificate.

She started her career at the Windsor Airport as a bartender. At that time, this was not her only job. She had to work two to three jobs in order to make ends meet. With a foot in the door, she was more easily able to be informed of new openings, including one in accounting. Her past experience allowed her to apply. From there, as other employees moved on, “I moved up the chain, and I’m still learning and loving every minute of my job,” she affirms.

She has positive values. She is a leader wanting the best for everyone and will always go the extra mile. She loves her job working with people and the management team. Karla brings a beautiful harmony to the Windsor Airport and we are fortunate to have her here.

Heather Botelho — Churchill Airport

Heather Botelho is the President of Local 50512. She has been an administrative assistant at the Churchill Airport for almost seven years now. She has been involved in the Union for a few years now and has really brought a great atmosphere to her workplace for her members.

Sister Botelho is very proactive. In addition to being involved in the Union, she is the administrative assistant for, not only the Churchill Airport, but also the Edmonton and Winnipeg offices remotely. Heather has been an advocate for the rights of Canadian workers since the beginning of her career. People recognize her for her work ethic. Her mission was to strengthen relationships within and outside the Union. This is a long-term job requiring dedication and motivation.

As fifth generation in Treaty 5 Territory, Churchill in Manitoba, on the lands of her ancestors before her, community spirit is very important to her. It was only recently that the local Transport Canada branch adopted, and made contributions to, her community. Churchill is a remote area in the North. For Heather, people helping people is a concept very important to her.

Heather is a leader. She goes above and beyond in everything she does. She wants to make a difference. The health and safety of her local are paramount. We are pleased to have a social activist like Sister Botelho at UCTE.

Devin Glass — Vancouver Airport

Devin Glass is the President of Local 20221. She has been working at the Vancouver Airport for almost 18 years. Since 2011, she has been a Terminal Duty Officer. Sister Glass is very involved at UCTE. She is someone with a lot of experience in the union field. She started out as a steward, then became secretary/treasurer followed by Chief Shop Steward and is now President of her local.

For some time, Devin has been involved on the bargaining team. Recently, she has had the opportunity to serve as PSAC’s Acting Regional Representative in the Vancouver Office. Under our Union, she is the third woman to hold a position such as this. “I am learning so many new aspects of the Union, and how to work to make our unions stronger and better”, she says.

Her determination to make her workplace enjoyable is inspiring. The interaction Devin had with the Focus Group on issues surrounding the government sale of airports was rewarding. Passionate about her work, Sister Glass explains that, as a Terminal Duty Officer, her position is the face of the airport. Her job is 24/7 and requires a lot of coordination. She follows a two-day, two-night pattern on 12-hour shifts. She is at the mercy of her radio and is always ready to respond to any call. A typical day involves lots of walking around the terminal. She and her team are always on the move and ready for action.

Devin Glass is a person who adapts quickly and easily to various situations. She puts an astounding amount of energy into her work. She doesn’t consider her work a “job”. “It’s all about having fun and finding the joy in your day-to-day work.” UCTE is honoured to have a woman with such leadership talent on its team.


UCTE is very proud of this advancement on parity. Fighting for parity has always been an aspect of our Union. We can see that the Canadian community is moving forward with values recognizing gender equality in airports. Other women stood out in airports this year as their local presidents: Karen Funk in Victoria, Jessica Klym in Winnipeg and Lise Bourque in Moncton. We want to take the time today to recognize the work these women have had to do in order to take their place in this environment. They are good role models for positive leadership in airports across Canada. Solidarity!






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