Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

RALLYING FOR THE CAUSE – About 20 people turned out for a rally this morning expressing support for those who work at Many Rivers Counselling & Support Services. On Tuesday evening, the workers voted to give an overwhelming strike mandate to the Yukon Employees’ Union, which represents 18 of its workers. Union president Steve Geick is seen at the far left.

Many Rivers Counselling strike a possibility

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.

By Palak Mangat on August 15, 2018

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.

Comments (13)

Up 0 Down 0

Jake on Aug 22, 2018 at 2:19 pm

@ Jake - That is so sad and glad your Dad got the help he and you needed. My issue is not about unions per say but what they have become. Everything your Dad faced could have probably been accomplished through stringent legislation protecting workers. Being part of the union myself I am disgusted with how they have involved themselves politically and also in the day to day business of the companies. They should only be active if they are called upon.

Up 6 Down 0

To Jake... on Aug 22, 2018 at 12:55 am

Abolishment of unions, you say? My dad worked for YTG. My mom got cancer and my dad's boss would not help out with transferring Dad's job to town so he could help to look after my brother and I when she was taking chemo. Dad fought it with the union's help and won. I'm glad you trust bosses and management, esp. in government to be fair and always have your best interests at heart. I don't.

Up 5 Down 5

Jake on Aug 21, 2018 at 7:41 am

oh yeah and the cost of all this nonsense !

Up 14 Down 1

Simon on Aug 20, 2018 at 8:31 pm

Spud - The number of qualified, experienced counselors in the territory (government employed or otherwise) is greatly overshadowed by the number of citizens needing their services. Sandy & Co. should be trimming management positions in the public service and putting that money into front-line workers, more online services and counselors.

Up 6 Down 6

Jake on Aug 20, 2018 at 7:51 pm

Okay I agree with Captain Obvious there is s need for the service. However, the real problem here is the union. Not willing to compromise and going to take all to task. The leadership there is s disgrace. Economic times do dictate that we should be tightening our belts. I think the best course of action is very strong legislation for the worker and an abolishment of unions in the Yukon. Two things, first useless unproductive people would be weeded out and those that are willing to work do get the rewards they deserve.

Up 19 Down 3

Captain Obvious on Aug 17, 2018 at 4:32 pm

Okay I have to chime in here because people aren't getting it.

We have CRITICAL lack of mental health support here. People keep whining about miscreants and addicts, but fail to see the solution is proper funding in mental health services. You can't just lock people up or throw them out. Healing is required, and that takes mental health services.

If you grit your teeth when you see a "zombie" staggering around downtown think of the least costly solution to the taxpayer. We pay exorbitant amounts of money on Emergency Services, and plug said services up by not looking for the root cause.

Mental Illness is nothing to take lightly. We need to acknowledge, understand, and support the recovery system. It's pennies on the dollar when you look at the long term. If you can't have sympathy as a human being, have sympathy as a taxpayer. It costs less to help people going in for a visit to a mental or addictions councilor than it does for a hospital visit.

Pick your math.

Up 7 Down 7

jean on Aug 17, 2018 at 3:20 pm

@Spud nailed it! Something is definitely wrong here.
How can members of a NGO be in a government employees union?
Are these people 'double-dippers'?
A thorough review of all NGOs is long overdue.

Up 7 Down 9

north_of_60 on Aug 17, 2018 at 3:14 pm

@money waster is correct. This group of rent-seekers has emerged from obscurity to clearly demonstrate their useless irrelevance. We have much better things to do with our hard-earned tax dollars besides funding social parasites. Let the people who think this group is worthwhile fund them.

Up 13 Down 6

ProScience Greenie on Aug 17, 2018 at 11:04 am

Not sure what this strike is all about but when it comes to suckling on the government, with a billion plus a year welfare payment from Ottawa, that's the business model of pretty much every business and NGO in the Yukon.

Up 11 Down 4

Spud on Aug 17, 2018 at 10:48 am

Just what do these volunteers do? We have a whole lot of social service professionals employed by Govt who should be counseling. if volunteers have converted their actions to a professional position then they should work for Govt. Something is wrong here.

Up 6 Down 10

Yukonner on Aug 16, 2018 at 11:10 pm

@Nile. How exactly would an organization that offers a completely free service to the public be considered a business?

Up 15 Down 9

money waster on Aug 16, 2018 at 10:59 am

I see a waste of taxpayer money on frivolous signs and t-shirts that will never get used again...

Up 14 Down 7

Nile on Aug 15, 2018 at 10:52 pm

How is many rivers a NGO? It’s a business that’s been suckling on the government for almost 50 years.

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