Photo by Whitehorse Star
Steve Geick and Mayor Dan Curtis
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Steve Geick and Mayor Dan Curtis
Steve Geick, the president of the Yukon Employees’ Union (YEU), says he expects conciliation will move the union representing city staffers and closer to new collective agreements with the city.
“We’re quite hopeful,” he said in an interview this morning of the conciliation that’s set to happen Feb. 19-23.
Conciliation is slated to happen with both Y022, representing about 30 city transit drivers, as well as Local Y023, representing approximately 200 city workers in other roles.
The last three-year agreement with the city’s transit union ended last Aug. 31 with the union’s and city’s negotiating teams entering negotiations in October for a new agreement.
After three days, Geick said, it was clear the concessions the city was seeking were so huge that the union had to declare an impasse.
With the help of a third party through conciliation, it’s hoped the two sides will be able to reach an agreement.
While Geick wouldn’t speak to the details on the possible contracts, pointing out that efforts are still underway to negotiate, he did acknowledge the January YEU newsletter available online does have some details.
It reports that the city is looking to remove in both contracts severance pay for voluntary resignations and retirement, limiting severance pay to those who may be laid off.
It also states the city wants to restrict long service bonuses only to staff who already receive it.
“Any employee with less than five full years of service would never receive the bonus, equivalent to two per cent of annual salary yearly,” it’s noted in a section of the newsletter written by John Mahoney, the YEU Local Y022 president.
He went on to argue the union doesn’t just bargain for current employees but future staffers as well.
“We don’t want to the next generation to be worse off than we are, and we’re not interested in creating first-class and second-class union members,” Mahoney wrote. “That’s not how we operate.”
The transit union wants a deal that keeps pace with inflation.
It was pointed out the city’s offer was a six-year deal that would see a one per cent lump sum payment upon ratification and then again on Sept. 1.
Further increases of 1.25 per cent for each of the next two years and then 1.5 per cent in each of the final two years would follow. However, they would only apply to those who have been with the city for four years or more.
“We made it clear to the employer that we have a duty of fair representation to all of our members and we will not be partners to their divide-and-conquer strategies,” Mahoney wrote.
“By filing for conciliation, we are keeping our bargaining in lock-step with the rest of the City of Whitehorse employees in Local Y023, who will also be in conciliation the week of Feb. 19, 2018,” it’s noted. “The city declared impasse at the Y023 table without even tabling a wage offer.”
Local YO23 president Teresa Acheson also wrote about negotiations with the city in the newsletter.
After just three days of negotiations in September 2017, Acheson wrote, the city “pulled the plug and filed for conciliation.
“In correspondence with the union, the city said, ‘the employer believes we are at an impasse ...’ because the union did not want to entertain inferior working conditions and refused to bargain concessions to the contract.”
Acheson then pointed to a letter signed by Mayor Dan Curtis in late 2016. In it the mayor thanked city staff, praising their hard work and service to the community.
With comments directed at Curtis, she then states: “Now we are asking the employer to put action behind those words and show support for the dedicated and committed professionals working for the city of Whitehorse.
“We come to the bargaining table as equals, expecting to be heard, respected and acknowledged for the work we do. We expect better from our employer.”
Acheson suggests efforts can be made by many in helping city staff reach a “fair deal.
“City workers can spread the message for a fair deal, while local residents can thank city staffers for their work and let council know they will be watching how negotiations go.
“City council members can also let management know you expect a collective agreement that provides equitable and fair compensation for the amazing stewards of this city.”
This morning, Curtis said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on negotiations, pointing out it is the city’s negotiating team that works toward a new deal with the union.
That said, Curtis did state his “tremendous amount of respect for the unions and amazing staff that work under them ....”
Pay scales for employees in both Y022 and Y023 vary by a number of factors such as level of training, experience and so on.
Transit driver trainees are paid between $27.82 and $28.20 per hour depending on whether they are permanent or casual.
Casual drivers earn between $28.53 and $35.25 per hour depending on classification and experience.
Permanent employees earn between $25.75 and $34.78 hourly, also depending on classification and experience.
Meanwhile, there is a wide range of job classifications and wages for those in Local Y023.
Between the 16 categories for permanent employees working 40 hours a week, employees may earn anywhere from $12.78 per hour, or $26,672 annually, to $52.73 per hour or $110,049, annually depending on their classification and experience.
Hourly wages for temporary and casual employees in the 16 categories range from $12.35 per hour to $50.89 per hour, also depending on factors like experience and classification.
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