Whitehorse Daily Star

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Steve Geick and Mayor Dan Curtis

Union hopes strike action can be averted

City of Whitehorse workers could strike as early as Saturday after members sent their unions “clear strike mandates”.

By Stephanie Waddell on March 13, 2018

City of Whitehorse workers could strike as early as Saturday after members sent their unions “clear strike mandates”.

Union officials, however, say they’re hopeful it won’t come to that.

Steve Geick, the president of the Yukon Employees’ Union, said transit staffers represented by Local Y022 and city workers in other positions (except for fire department employees, represented by another union) represented by Local Y023 voted through last week and over the weekend in favour of job action.

But Geick is hopeful mediation scheduled from Wednesday to Friday will prove successful and there will be no need to take job action.

“I am glad to see the city workers showing support for their bargaining team by giving such a strong strike mandate,” Geick said in a statement Monday.

“Hopefully, we will be able to reach a deal with the city at the table, and not have to use it.”

Specific vote numbers were not released.

Transit wages range between $25.75 and $35.25 per hour.

Others covered under Y023 are paid anywhere between $12.35 and $52.73 per hour. That depends on position, level of training and years of service.

This morning, Geick said the union has no plans to take action yet.

Consequently, he could not say what form it might take – whether it be a general strike, rotating walkouts, picket lines or more.

Job action could, however, be taken, with members showing clear support over what Geick described as an attack on severance pay and the city’s attempts to create a two-tiered system that would harm newer employees.

In a previous Facebook post, the union provided some details on the city’s offer:

“The city wants to roll back benefits for its workers equivalent to a wage claw-back, a salary reduction of about two per cent a year.

“They plan to do away with any severance pay except in a layoff, and eliminate long service awards entirely for anyone who hasn’t already qualified – that’s a significant and sudden reduction in compensation.”

The union then went on to highlight wage package details proposed by the city for transit workers.

It pointed out the city offered no increase in pay for six years for anyone who has fewer than four years’ service.

“That means no increase for many current and all new workers until 2024,” reads the post.

“Only those transit workers currently at the top of their pay grid would be eligible for any increase during the life of the city’s desired six-year contract; the city wants six years with no pay increase for many transit workers until 2024.

“You can be confident the workers and union were requesting an infinitely more modest pay increase than the 80-per-cent increase council has approved for themselves.”

City council recently approved an increase for the next members of council who are elected in October.

Honouraria for councillors will rise from $20,496 to $36,036 each year to account for income tax changes to council pay, and to bring it closer in line with what councillors make in other jurisdictions.

The annual salary for the mayor is set to rise from $87,942 to $101,100 to reflect the change to the tax regime.

After last night’s council meeting, Mayor Dan Curtis said he’s hopeful a deal that works for everybody will be reached through mediation this week.

He referred to the current situation as all part of the process when it comes to negotiating contracts.

Curtis also pointed out that the union would have to provide 72 hours’ notice before taking job action.

In highlighting the importance of negotiating a fair contract for everyone, he also stressed the city recognizes it “obviously has amazing staff.”

Comments (7)

Up 3 Down 3

drum on Mar 15, 2018 at 5:16 pm

When Unions and Employers negotiate Collective Agreements in good faith the principal is not to take away from previous agreements but to ad to them. It is so ridiculous to expect the union and its members to give up what they have already have.

Up 9 Down 4

John Q public on Mar 14, 2018 at 6:47 pm

So our awesome city councillors give themselves a big raise in the same year as contract negotiations.....and the manager who proposed all this gets a full time job appointment? Hmmm. Taxpayers will get hit hard. This city is a mess

Up 5 Down 2

Josey Wales on Mar 14, 2018 at 5:03 pm

Yukoner...King Dan and his team of entitled nobles probably already have a plan giving the Sima fundraisers essential services status ensuring Sima gets theeee best gear available.
Mind you no more union towels from CGC, let them strike all summer..and into the winter

Up 6 Down 0

Yukoner on Mar 14, 2018 at 11:42 am

Great, hopefully this will save people from parking tickets for a little bit!

Up 5 Down 3

Alan Boomer on Mar 13, 2018 at 7:41 pm

I hope these workers will be treated fairly if they strike.

Seems like there is too much bullying and a lot of BS at public meetings thus I have not much confidence in the city.

Up 4 Down 2

drum on Mar 13, 2018 at 4:35 pm

The City Council had no qualms awarding themselves a huge salary increase. What is good for the Goose is good for the Gander!!!!!!!!!!!

Up 0 Down 1

ProScience Greenie on Mar 13, 2018 at 4:12 pm

Not the biggest fan of unions but, just like the rest of us, these workers live in CoW and have to deal with the rising costs of food, fuel, housing, taxes, more taxes and even more taxes to pay for mayor and council's wage increases and endless reckless spending. Can't blame them for trying to keep up with costs but a strike won't win them much support.

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