Whitehorse Daily Star

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Steve Geick

Hospital staffers plan strike vote

More than 300 hospital staffers in Whitehorse, Watson Lake and Dawson City could be voting to strike later this week.

By Stephanie Waddell on February 5, 2019

More than 300 hospital staffers in Whitehorse, Watson Lake and Dawson City could be voting to strike later this week.

In an interview Monday, Steve Geick, the president of the Yukon Employees’ Union (YEU), confirmed a strike vote is scheduled for Thursday.

Any action will depend on what comes out of scheduled conciliation set for Feb. 14-15.

The employees’ major issue is workload, as it was for the last contract which ended Aug. 31, 2017.

“People are burning out,” Geick said.

Open positions are not being filled, he said, and the expanded emergency ward at Whitehorse General Hospital is creating an even bigger workload for the staff.

Geick noted there have been about four rounds of negotiations for a new deal since the last one expired.

Officials are hopeful that next week’s conciliation talks will result in a fair contract.

However, Geick said, the union wants to secure direction from its members going forward.

An essential services agreement has also been worked out for the necessary work that would be done at the three hospitals in the territory should job action be taken.

Matt Davidson, a spokesman for the Yukon Hospital Corp., confirmed the scheduled conciliation talks, but would not get into specifics around the contract.

“We continue to keep the lines of communication open,” he said, adding that the corporation’s priority is the continued, safe, quality care of its patients.

Comments (17)

Up 2 Down 2

Groucho d'North on Feb 11, 2019 at 4:32 pm

As I have mentioned in previous comments, now would be the ideal time for Mr. Silver to press his pal in Ottawa for more money- this time for healthcare.
Looks like he'll be trying to buy votes as best as he can while he is still allowed to have the chequebook.

Up 4 Down 3

Max Mack on Feb 11, 2019 at 4:07 pm

Undoubtedly, workload is an issue in the sense that there is always more demand than supply. This problem is not unique to the Yukon and is present in all Canadian jurisdictions to some extent. Barring some exceptional change in nursing supply or standards of care, there is expected to be an increasing gap between the demand for nurses and the supply of nurses.

Hence, nurses work overtime shifts and retired nurses are picking up shifts for extra spending money. It goes without saying that some appreciate this arrangement.

However, I'm not at all sure that "workload" is something that can be solved through a collective agreement given the growing shortage being experienced all across the country?
Perhaps more men could be enticed to go into nursing through financial incentives and gender quotas? Silly me . . . that will never fly . . .

Up 8 Down 6

Caged Bird on Feb 9, 2019 at 2:19 pm

Thanks Audrey McLaughlin - Well stated. If management dealt with all workers with support and respect there would be little or no sustained conflict in YG. There is a reason that the RWO has been given the boot by management from YG department’s - Because management does not want a spotlight on its behaviours. It prefers the generalized chaos that infighting brings. The Union is aware of this. The Union needs to be more involved and support its workers by bringing back the right to grieve harassment in the workplace. By giving back the workforce some balance of power.

Up 23 Down 13

Audrey McLaughlin on Feb 9, 2019 at 8:24 am

I strongly support all hospital workers, there have been management issues for a long time, and despite this the staff at all levels have given devoted and caring service. They deserve our support as does the union who represents them. For those who decry unions, if the managers, including the Yukon Hospital Corporation, treated workers fairly and recognized their issues, the current situation would not be happening. There needs to be a real investigation in to the management, at the moment the publicity is on potential strikes votes and negotiations, but it is time for the government to ensure that the root of the issues are investigated as well as the current issues.

Up 21 Down 5

drum on Feb 8, 2019 at 6:20 pm

Remember the MANY RIVERS WALK OUT - the union reps. never lost a paycheque and they lost three months worth. Think about it.

Up 10 Down 14

Save With Geick-o on Feb 8, 2019 at 2:05 pm

At joe and jane - Yo Joe is correct. The union is necessary and should expand its involvement through representation of its members in matters of workplace conflict. This is especially true given the increased levels of impulsivity and aggression that are the hallmarks of an entitled, narcissistic, and spoiled workforce. The carnival atmosphere of YTG must be reigned in and the chaos settled. The union must step in to protect the membership from eating itself.

Up 14 Down 19

Yo Joe! on Feb 7, 2019 at 10:33 pm

@ Joe and Jane - The Union needs to be more active for its membership. There are real issues with management that need to cleaned out. The Union needs to reclaim the grievance process from the defunct RWO and support the membership in achieving a Respectful Workplace.

Up 31 Down 9

Juniper Jackson on Feb 7, 2019 at 7:54 pm

Anyone who thinks hospital staff should not have anything they want... balance that against your stroke or heart attack.. Health care is one of the few thing that taxpayers and government should not get stingy about. This CEO get big bucks for cutting the budget? Closing part of the lab? Sending medical tests to Vancouver? More big bucks for cutting back service? Refusing pay raises? Maybe that stroke would be him? Just sayin'.. people can gripe all they want about how much some one else is earning..but you'll change your tune mighty fast when you are 1 breath away from death.

Up 32 Down 6

joe and Jane on Feb 7, 2019 at 1:19 pm

@ reality check...please read more carefully. I said the unions are militant not the hospital workers as you mistakenly imply. I agree the hospital workers should be treated fairly and equitably, my point is unions are outdated, they use archaic militant negotiating techniques that hurt everyone. You could easily negotiate just as well, with the same leverage- without PSAC or YEU. As a matter of fact you could get more and better value and better representation from the huge monthly contributions each member pays.

Up 45 Down 11

YEU needs the boot on Feb 6, 2019 at 8:05 pm

Maybe it’s time YEU is disbanded in favour of a more positive approach to labour relations.

Up 32 Down 9

Alan Manning on Feb 6, 2019 at 1:44 pm

These hospital workers should not have to strike and it's a terrible time of year to do so.
Please offer them a few honourable concessions and work towards negotiating others.

There is no need to get ugly with this.

Up 19 Down 9

Reality Check on Feb 6, 2019 at 1:25 pm

The bargaining process is all member driven... members decide what they want to fight for at the table, they decide when they've had enough and when they want to vote to strike, or not strike. YEU is the local union that represents workers issues year round, and PSAC is the national organization that does all the negotiating. Militant is a funny word to use about hospital workers and mental health counsellors - maybe the issue here isn't the workers trying to negotiate decent working conditions.

Up 22 Down 15

The real victims on Feb 6, 2019 at 1:25 pm

The patients should go on strike!
That's the difference, they're the real victims, they don't have a choice in the matter.

Up 53 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Feb 6, 2019 at 1:17 pm

I had an unplanned visit and stay in the ICU of the Whitehorse General Hospital last spring. My first visit there since the addition of the new ER and related changes. Apart from a wonderful bright, clean and shiny building addition, I was treated very professionally by all the staff working that ward. From the Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to the staff who take the blood pressures and blood samples numerous times a day and the food services staff who always asked how the meal was, the quality of service I received was top-notch. Thanks to all the hospital staff who are dedicated to restoring our health and making our stay with them as pleasant as can be expected during those circumstances of illness and the ravages of age. We should be grateful for the standard of care delivered by these hard-working medical professionals. I am alive today to write this note because of their attention to my health needs. Thanks again to each of them.

Up 69 Down 1

make those groups that use it the most on Feb 6, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Pay more.
Maybe if nurses weren't harassed as much and ambulances weren't being used as taxis, they would be able to deal with real problems.

Up 18 Down 42

My sushi server on Feb 6, 2019 at 10:23 am

Works 14 hours a day 7 days a week. No vacation in 15 years.
Plus their job is harder!

Up 41 Down 14

Daphne Privett on Feb 6, 2019 at 1:08 am

Go for it Nurses of Whitehorse General Hospital I will back you all up thank you for being so good to me when I went to the emergency many many times and being there for me I love every one of you.

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