Whitehorse Daily Star

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Pictured above: Steve Geick

Many Rivers workers plan to strike Friday

Staff at Many Rivers Counseling & Support Services could begin walking the picket line at 4 p.m. Friday.

By Stephanie Waddell on October 31, 2018

Staff at Many Rivers Counseling & Support Services could begin walking the picket line at 4 p.m. Friday.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) has served strike notice on behalf of the local union. It did so after an agreement failed to be reached with management after conciliation talks held Tuesday.

The strike notice comes after more than a year of negotiations. The “strong strike mandate” was shown by workers in August, PSAC and Yukon Employees’ Union (YEU) officials said in a statement Tuesday.

While YEU president Steve Geick would not give precise details on the vote, he noted at noon today it was a “very, very strong mandate” by a “huge majority.”

Among the major issues, he noted Many Rivers was looking for a longer agreement than the union was willing to take on.

The organization was first proposing a six-year deal, later reducing that to five years – but without any financial compensation for the longer term.

Normally, Geick noted, agreements are for two or three years and sometimes four years. In this case, the proposed increases wouldn’t even likely keep up with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), he said.

If a longer-term agreement is wanted, he argued, it has to, at the very least, keep up with the CPI.

There’s also an issue around the number of hours worked and the provision for overtime pay and employee per diems.

“It’s frustrating that we’ve reached impasse yet again,” said Jack Bourassa, the PSAC’s regional vice-president.

“The workers have kept up their end of the bargain, doing excellent work in support of their communities. We had higher hopes for the employer, but clearly, we were wrong.”

As Geick echoed: “We’re very disappointed.”

Bourassa went on to note the union remains open to talks and welcomes dialogue with Many Rivers.

The goal, it was stressed, has always been to reach a negotiated agreement and minimize disruption to Many Rivers’ clients.

The Many Rivers website states it offers “a wide range of counseling services for individuals, families and communities in the Yukon.”

There are approximately 16 employees working in offices in Dawson City, Haines Junction, Watson Lake and Whitehorse, with each office serving communities.

Geick said Yukoners can expect to see picket lines at Many Rivers’ offices on Friday afternoon.

The Star’s call to Many Rivers seeking comment about the pending strike was not returned.

Comments (21)

Up 0 Down 0

Former Many Rivers Employee on Nov 29, 2018 at 1:45 pm

The management at many rivers was abusive, deceitful and downright creepy. I can't echo the original comments enough that counsellors do important work and deserve decent management. We have, more than half of us, left because of the unethical activity conducted by management. Myself and others are working in much better environments now; healthy, effective and talented counsellors will not stay in such a dysfunctional work environment...for the good of the clients and community, MANAGEMENT HAS TO GO.

Up 17 Down 4

Management has to go on Nov 5, 2018 at 6:02 pm

The issues noted here barely touch the surface of what goes on in that place. Management is 100% to blame for this and should have been booted out years ago. The Board also needs to take responsibility. Over half their staff left, loving their jobs, but could not handle management for one more second. YG, do an audit! Boot management so the counsellors can have a healthy work environment to do their work.

Up 14 Down 4

Fix it on Nov 5, 2018 at 4:22 pm

Many Rivers has many issues, primarily the overturning of staff. The pay isn't great and the management is even worse. I can attest first handed to this issues this would cause for someone in need of assistance; you can't make forward momentum if there is zero constancy in staff. If you have 4 or 5 session into treatment and your counselor changes then as a patient you are back to square one.

YG should not be going to the 'lowest bidder' for the Employee Assistance Program. It's just wrong.

Up 4 Down 10

Doug Ryder on Nov 4, 2018 at 8:06 pm

@ Edie - That does not sound like a MRC services problem. It sounds more like a lack of resources issue endemic to remote northern locales.
Counseling services are in short supply everywhere. If you want to retain good quality services you have to have the right working conditions to do that; pay, hours and benefits.

Counseling, social working, and psychological services have high social and psychological demands on the persons who work these jobs.
High rates of sick time, mental health days, stress days due to compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and other...
Pay them on parallel with YTG and hire more.

Up 6 Down 6

Doug Ryder on Nov 4, 2018 at 7:38 pm

@ Jake - Can you please highlight a fact in any one of your posts. Did you mean prey or pray. I find it hard to believe that the union would pray on Many Rivers - do you feel they need saving? Are you suggesting some form of exorcism?

Brainwashed? Are you suggesting that Geick is some sort of CIA mastermind? What do you mean by being brainwashed? Are you suggesting that the people who work at Many Rivers are stupid?

Do you also mean that all YTG employees are also dupes? Obviously Geick has brainwashed them as well or they would not be in such lofty places looking down on the their union brothers and sisters encouraging them to rise up!
Wow! What next? All Whitehorse Star commenters/readers are also being duped?

Please do not make things personal - Pull hard on that Jake-brake and slow your roll... Please, for the sake of civil discussion.

Up 3 Down 1

Doug Ryder on Nov 4, 2018 at 7:14 pm

@ Jake and Edie - Thank you. Reasoned arguments and a basis for discussion. I appreciate it.

Up 11 Down 4

Edie rue on Nov 3, 2018 at 11:05 pm

I’m a huge fan on NGO services, but again, my question, which is backed by my involvement in social justice, is what do they do? H&S just had their EAP farmed out to an agency down south, who then farmed that out to Many Rivers. And nobody wants to go there because they are being chosen over their clients because they are middle-upper class government workers, while the public sits on a wait list. That’s how the door to the public is half-shut.

Up 2 Down 5

Jake on Nov 3, 2018 at 2:51 pm

@ Doug Ryder sounds to me like paranoia and an excuse to slam someone who, First - never stated that they were unnecessary, simply should be careful because of how simple it would be for the Government to cut it's ties with MRC. Second - if You feel uncomfortable with dealing with Government on services provided by them and want MRC to continue to exist then strike action was not the route to go! The union is the one putting this service in jeopardy, not me. My posts are accurate and are based on fact. Sounds like you are too close to this and the one who should quit posting.

Up 18 Down 2

Joseum Wales on Nov 3, 2018 at 10:28 am

Many Rivers had very poor management in the past.

Up 11 Down 4

Jack on Nov 2, 2018 at 9:01 pm

See Mr. Geick proud as a peacock in that picture. When you support action like this Mr. Geick do you draw strike pay like those poor souls on the ground, or are you a talk the talk kind of guy. Seems to me if you are a true leader, you would get in the trenches with your brothers and sisters and suffer with them.YES??

Up 7 Down 5

Doug Ryder on Nov 2, 2018 at 2:28 pm

@ Jake - You are the one who posted an unqualified statement. You are obligated to explain it.

A lot of people do not like to be involved with government services because they are overly intrusive and are required to follow the party line. The government collects information that it does not need and uses it irresponsibly.
If one cannot explain themselves then one should not be given license to post on social media.

Up 7 Down 12

jake on Nov 2, 2018 at 12:47 pm

@Doug Ryder - Do Your own homework. Just cruise government and you will find almost every service that is provided by MRC. Also your comment about going there because they are not government makes no sense. Government funded only because it is the governments responsibility.

Up 16 Down 5

Groucho d'North on Nov 1, 2018 at 7:06 pm

Organized crime is wearing new clothes.

Up 10 Down 8

Doug Ryder on Nov 1, 2018 at 6:43 pm

@ Jake - How is Many Rivers a duplicated service? Your assertion does not seem justifiable. I am curious and look forward to your response.

@ Edie rue - How has the door to Many Rivers been shut halfway to the public? If “they” are useless in your eyes what value would they have at MWSUS? Unless of course you are saying that the staff at MWSUS are useless as well? Or do you place more value on the MWSUS staff simply because they are higher-paid, unionized, government shirkers?

A lot of people like to go to Many Rivers because they are not government.

It has also been a well known fact that the department of Health and Social Services [homeland to Social Workers] is little more than a vipers pit plagued by concerns of workplace violence. Good call Edie. Let us create more need for counseling services. Increase that EAP load. Where do they go? Many Rivers is gone? Truck-em! It’s not like the government does anything useful anyway.

In all my years I rarely hear support for more government - Perhaps, Edie we just might rue it.

@ Darrell Drugstore - As Josey Wales explains - They help people navigate the turbulent waters of life and because they do, we are all better off for it. The North needs more counseling services not less.

Up 22 Down 18

Darrell Drugstore's smartest neighbour on Nov 1, 2018 at 3:29 pm

Would someone please tell me what these people do that is of any use ?

Up 11 Down 12

Josey Wales on Nov 1, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Gee folks, gotta say in this decent in our collective madness even I can see the value in Many Rivers.
Assisting folks sort the rubbish from tangible when for a myriad of reasons, ones mind is fully taxed...very much assists in creating or maintaining a healthy community.
As we paddle through the turbulent waters of life, some folks can take class 5 water...for awhile.
Others, they can do class 2 all day without breaking a sweat...until they get to class 3 or higher challenges in said paddle.
A wee bit of guidance if you will from a few pros versed well in the many rivers and all the challenges...yes perhaps that class 3+?
May not freak you out once the situational awareness is Uber clear, and now can yield a more formidable set of paddle skills....just saying.

Given the biblical volume of cash hemorrhaged up here to coddle us, I see supporting the crew at Many Rivers as a good allocation of cash....most certain to be pissed away somewhere else with less value added.
We have enough culture clubs, volumes of folks floundering, some near drowning in life...every single person can benefit from increased mental health and the best thing is that the doors are open to everyone...imagine that concept up here?

All that said...the union component makes me uneasy.
Unionized NGO just seems like a bad idea, MR aside but generally speaking.
We all get wet feet from time to time, just be cautious not to get sucked into an eddy of collective gibberish or a few are certain to drown.
All these water metaphors.....come on, it is “Many Rivers” after all.

Bloviate fin OJW

Up 27 Down 10

jake on Nov 1, 2018 at 12:38 pm

@ My Opinion nope they are an NGO that has been prayed upon, and brainwashed by this union. They are nonprofit and do provide some services. Reality is, it is duplication of other services provided, and also should never have morphed into what it is today. This not the first time either. The funding can only go so far and if government finds better ways I fear they are finished. Thanks STEVE!!!

Up 26 Down 9

My Opinion on Nov 1, 2018 at 10:13 am

Good have a nice holiday. It will save us money. I had no idea these guys were Government or are they???? Have NGO's morphed into Gov. through their funding agreements????

Up 26 Down 10

jake on Nov 1, 2018 at 9:00 am

OMG!! Get back to work and keep negotiating! The expired contract was okayed by the membership and cannot be that out of date. This is a good example of this militant leader using M.R.C. as cannon fodder to advance his own agenda. The YEU in My opinion has outlasted It's usefulness. Being part of it as a member, sickens me, when this stupidly is allowed. Especially now with the signals coming out of the government about looking for efficiencies. I would worry if I were them, NGO'S are usually where they look first.

Up 27 Down 12

Edie rue on Oct 31, 2018 at 7:26 pm

I have worked in the social service field in Whitehorse for 14 yrs, and I’ve never referred or known anyone who received counseling services from Many Rivers. The door has been halfway shut for the public, I say let it close entirely as they are useless anyway. Send the workers to Mental Wellness and Substance Abuse Services.

Up 28 Down 11

Joe on Oct 31, 2018 at 6:20 pm

Omg, company offers work for five years, union wants less...what is wrong with you? I remember hoping I would have work next month.

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