Open letter to Mayor Bev Buckway and council:
I am writing today with reference to an article that appeared in the Yukon News on Friday, October 8th. I am compelled to express my dissatisfaction with how the city of Whitehorse, and by extension you, have apparently been treating Whitehorse’s firefighters.
I have a fairly good understanding of job classification processes and it is clear to me that there is a serious problem with the system the city is using. Any system that would rank waste disposal employees over highly trained and skilled professionals is clearly flawed. No offence or disrespect intended to our waste disposal employees.
The ranking criteria in job classification systems are designed to result in fair and equitable relative rankings for a given employer. There appears to be one or more of the following problems in this system. Either the criteria in the city’s system have not been properly applied to the firefighter job descriptions, the job descriptions are poorly written, the criteria are not appropriate for this type of job or the criteria are simply flawed. I am wondering if the consultant referred to in the article examined any of these issues when they earned $165,000.
In any event, any fair and equitable employer will provide a mechanism to correct for unforeseeable systematic flaws. It appears the mechanism in this case is arbitration. I find it morally reprehensible for the city to disregard the results of arbitration and take the union to court in an attempt to have the decision nullified. It is also a tremendous insult to city taxpayers, myself included, that the city would use taxpayer money to do so!
The statement made by city manager Dennis Shewfelt about all city wages needing to go up if firefighter wages are increased does not ring true for me either. Again, I refer to the likely flawed classification system in use. Fix that problem and this complication is resolved. Additionally, if an arbitrated wage increase violates a 22-year-old city policy, the policy is clearly flawed.
As a taxpayer and voter, I am calling upon you, honourable mayor and councillors, to immediately halt legal action against the firefighters’ union, enact the arbitration decision, correct all the flaws in the classification system, renew the pay equity policy and rest easy in the knowledge that these professionals are here, ready to risk their lives if we ever need them.