A Yukon non-profit organization could be one step closer to a strike after a vote by its bargaining team and membership resulted in “overwhelming” support for the possibility of a labour disruption.
That’s according to Steve Geick, the president of the Yukon Employees’ Union (YEU).
Together with the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the YEU represents 18 members of Many Rivers Counselling & Support Services, a release noted.
The strike vote was held Tuesday evening.
“We’ve been bargaining with Many Rivers for over a year now, and we’re not getting anywhere at the bargaining table,” Geick told the Star this morning.
The collective agreement expired in March 2017, he noted.
Conciliation talks did not actually begin until October 2017.
The release noted that “significant movement by the employer” needs to be made before a contract can be reached.
Because the talks are ongoing, Geick was not able to release details as to specific requests being made, but did speak more generally.
“There’s a lot on the table,” he said, adding that can include things like monetary arrangements, benefits, working conditions and hours of work.
“We’re not negotiating every article, but we’re miles apart.”
He added that Many Rivers did provide a “comprehensive package” during the last talks but it did not leave the union hopeful that a deal could be reached.
Tuesday’s vote will “give us a mandate that if we need to, then we would go forward into mediation but have it as a backup plan,” Geick said.
Talks are now set to resume for the following couple of days.
After the vote showing support for a possible strike, Geick said he is optimistic that the message is being sent.
“They need the employer to buckle down and come to the table – let’s negotiate, he said.
“We’re hopeful we can get to a deal without having to exercise the strike mandate – if we need to, we got it.”
About 20 people attended a solidarity rally this morning at the Coast High Country Inn to line up with the beginning of conciliation talks.
Since its inception in 1969, Many Rivers has offered counselling services for adults and youth. It has offices in Whitehorse, Haines Junction, Dawson City and Watson Lake.
The Star’s request for an interview with a Many Rivers representative this morning was rerouted to the YEU.