Whitehorse Daily Star

Some buses won’t run today, city says

City buses were on the road today after transit users were advised Friday to find alternative transportation options in light of a potential strike.

By Stephanie Waddell on March 19, 2018

City buses were on the road today after transit users were advised Friday to find alternative transportation options in light of a potential strike.

The Yukon Employees’ Union (YEU), representing transit workers, served strike notice Friday as mediation talks (with both the transit union and the union representing other city workers) were underway.

The two sides were unable to reach an agreement by the time talks ended late Friday night.

The union served the mandatory 72 hours’ potential strike notice. The city advised transit users to seek other options for getting around.

Early this afternoon, the city said the following buses will not be running today:

• the 2:20 p.m. Copper Ridge-Granger route;

• the 4:20 p.m. Riverdale North route;

• the 3:40 p.m. Porter Creek express route, with transit users advised to take the #4 bus at 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. instead; and

• the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Porter Creek-Crestview route, with transit users advised to take the Porter Creek express bus at 5:40 p.m., 6:40 p.m. or 7 p.m. instead.

YEU president Steve Geick noted Sunday that after speaking with the union membership, it was decided that a work-to-rule campaign would begin this morning rather than full strike action.

“No transit worker will be doing any overtime,” Geick commented.

“Casuals will not be accepting extra shifts, and everyone will be very punctual when they come to and leave work.

“All coffee breaks and lunches will be taken when scheduled.”

That could mean buses pulling over at the scheduled break or end of shift and letting passengers off there rather than finishing up all the stops before a break or shift end.

In a statement this morning, the union said it had put forward an offer for settlement with an amended economic package to reach an agreement with the city, while still working to protect provisions of the agreement that would improve wages and working conditions for members.

“Our goal during this round of bargaining has always been to resolve problems and improve wages and working conditions for our members,” Geick said.

“We have worked very hard to reach a deal this week, but we cannot be expected to give up on a fair deal that includes economic and retirement security for our members.”

The union says it is “asking members to continue to show support for its bargaining teams and to let city council know that its municipal employees deserve a fair deal.”

Mayor Dan Curtis is out of town and has not been available for comment on the situation.

City spokesman Myles Dolphin said this morning the union has not presented the city with any counter-offer since last fall on the two issues of long service awards and severance pay that it continues to take issue with.

No new employees would be eligible for long service awards, but they would continue for anyone hired by the city in any position prior to ratification, the city has said.

Dolphin pointed out this is in line with what is offered to city managers. It also aligns with agreements the Yukon government, the Village of Haines Junction and Yukon Hospitals, among others, have with their employees.

The proposal for severance pay would also apply only to new employees with those who are laid off or who retire eligible to receive severence.

Dolphin said there also remains a large gap between the city and union on the proposed pay package.

It’s anticipated the two sides will be back to the table in mid-April, the next available date the mediator is available as talks over the weekend ended when time ran out.

The city is looking forward to getting back to the bargaining table, Dolphin said.

In the meantime, the city is anticipating there will be delays and disruptions in the bus service. It will be updating its social media pages and website to keep the public up to date, Dolphin said.

“It’s unfortunate this (work-to-rule) action is impacting the public,” he said.

Last week’s mediation came after conciliation talks broke down in February. Contracts for both unions ended Aug. 31, 2017.

Negotiations for a new deal began last October.

Under the current contract transit wages range between $25.75 and $35.25 per hour.

Other city workers are paid anywhere between $12.35 and $52.73 per hour. The amount depends on the position, level of training and years of service.

The city’s last transit strike lasted four months, beginning in late 2000 and extending into 2001.

Comments (11)

Up 0 Down 0

Kenny on Mar 27, 2018 at 5:43 am

@reality check.

$15-18 an hour? Then why does it say 25-35 an hour in the article?

Yes, not saying there wouldn't be parts of the job that are not great...that is why it is called work and not vacation. Every job has negatives! Their negatives are the same as a lot of other jobs around the area. Think nurses, downtown store employees, people working in the grocery stores, residents, police officers, cabs, etc., etc., don’t deal with the same intoxicated sometimes violent people? Part of living in Whitehorse my friend.

Think cabs, paramedics, Canada post, delivery drivers don’t get frustrated with traffic and bad roads? Common.

Up 0 Down 0

Reality check on Mar 26, 2018 at 7:40 am

@ Kenny: No public transit operator makes $15-18 an hour, maybe in the few weeks of training... (just google it)

Vancouver: $22.42 - $32.03
Victoria: $20.06 - $29.69
Halifax: $19.48 - $25.98
Edmonton: $23.49 - $36.09
Winnipeg: $20.18 - $28.15

So, what is the point of being envious?

Weird shifts sometimes (especially when you start), traffic, road conditions, not very well maintained and filthy equipment!
Dealing with aggressive/drunk passengers and/or other drivers!
Doing overtime because they don't hire enough driver (or nobody wants to do the job anymore?)...

It's everybody's choice at the end but at least you get a good pay (and have a shorter life expectancy due to the stress all day long)! *sarcasm off*

Up 0 Down 0

kenny on Mar 25, 2018 at 6:41 am

I'm sorry, how much do they make now? I think city and territorial employees should understand how well they are paid. Most make in the 30's for a job that would make 15-18 anywhere else in Canada. Yes cost of living is a bit higher for some things....but for the most part due to subsidies is not unlike the cost of living in most of Canada's urban centers(even less than major cities). I lived in Yukon for 5 years....now live in BC for 2. My cost of living now is higher, and I make far less money doing the same job. Yukon has the second highest average wage I believe in Canada next to either NWT or Nunavut.

Up 3 Down 1

My Opinion on Mar 21, 2018 at 4:29 pm

Ask a truck driver, these guys work half the hours at double the hourly rate. Good Gig already. City should just shut it down for a couple of months, no wages.

Up 5 Down 1

Kracka on Mar 20, 2018 at 11:49 am

No buses today, so 4 people that usually occupy the bus are out of luck. Let’s be honest our bus service is a mess, huge diesel guzzlers and polluters driving with only the driver aboard. Get some smaller vans or handicap bus types and minimize the subsidies that are too commonplace in our city today.

Up 6 Down 0

jane on Mar 20, 2018 at 11:11 am

Wow good work union guys, making the people who are marginalized and who need service the most suffer. You make too much money already, just ask anyone who takes a bus....

Up 3 Down 2

ProScience Greenie on Mar 20, 2018 at 10:44 am

Exactly joe. The Whitehorse transit system is driven by big city envy and green optics but is not at all efficient nor green.

Up 4 Down 0

Guncache on Mar 19, 2018 at 8:29 pm

The mayor and council had no problem voting a raise for themselves, most of them will be gone next election

Up 6 Down 2

joe on Mar 19, 2018 at 5:05 pm

Perfect time to review the transit system. It appears to be oversized, under-utilized and overly subsidized. We are not a large city which can afford a transit system that caters to everyone.

Up 6 Down 0

Bring Back The Handibus on Mar 19, 2018 at 3:22 pm

Bring back the original Handibus service, 90% of the time those smaller size vehicles could handle the passengers being driven around by today's current oversized, environmentally destructive buses at 1/2 the cost.
When Handibus went away in favor of a city of Whitehorse ran, taxpayer funded transit system I don't think anyone envisioned what is going on today in terms of size, wage factor, or bloated cost to Whitehorse residents.

Up 2 Down 1

Danny Harper on Mar 19, 2018 at 3:11 pm

Okay, since everyone is fixating on money, and King Dan is conveniently out of town at the AWG and the (newly permanent) City Manager have thrown Miles in to this mess, take a moment to remember the last transit strike 16 years ago. You don't? Oh, right because the city had 3 busses.

While we're fixating on money, has anyone taken a look at what the city is saying vs what the union is saying? Everyone seems to conveniently forget that city staff don't have a pension like YTG and HJ. I'm not so sure about the hospital or college as I haven't read their collective agreements. Friends have told me that when you're skilled and go to work for government, you give up the money for the fringe benefits. It looks like the city wants to start clawing that back because it's "in line with the Management agreement".

Sounds like Management should form a union. Maybe they'd be able to negotiate better.

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