Deal gives city employees 8.5 per cent over four years

After an 18-month delay, most city employees have a new contract. That delay was unnecessary and unacceptable, said Coun. Doug Graham on Monday.

After an 18-month delay, most city employees have a new contract.

That delay was unnecessary and unacceptable, said Coun. Doug Graham on Monday.

“It’s not the negotiating committee’s fault in any event because their hands were tied both by legal opinions and decisions made by this council that were wrong, that were based on bad advice that we received by city administration,” he said.

“I think that somebody has to be held accountable and I know the only person that reports to council is the city manager.”

That last remark angered Mayor Bev Buckway, prompting her to slam her gavel.

“Councillor Graham, you are out of order,” she said, hitting it again.

And the sparks started to fly.

Councillors are muzzled and there’s little accountability for city staffers, said Graham.

Politicians must be respectful of the workplace policy and code of conduct that prohibits personnel issues from being aired publicly, said Buckway.

“If you’re speaking poorly of your council, that’s what we’re elected for,” said Buckway. “But if you speak poorly of your staff, they can’t answer back. That’s not fair.”

All of this is outlined in the councillors’ code of conduct.

Councillors are not obligated to sign the code, which hangs on Buckway’s office wall.

“You do not speak poorly of your staff,” she said. “To me, that’s just not something that you do not do. I just have no words for how disrespectful it is to do.”

Lawyers delayed the eventual wage settlement.

A BC law firm was reviewing the city’s pay equity rules, which have been to arbitration at least three times since 1988, most to resolve impasses with firefighters.

Under the city’s pay-equity rules, firefighters get paid less than Whitehorse’s garbage truck drivers.

And in the last deadlock, firefighters were offered a raise much smaller than they wanted. In fact, it would have kept their pay below that of firefighters in other similar-size Canadian municipalities.

And council objected to them getting even that much. It challenged the arbitrated settlement in court.

Now, the city’s firefighters have been without a contract for five years.

The city has agreed to review its pay-equity system, said city manager Dennis Schewfelt.

The system evaluates and ranks jobs.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents most city employees, asserted the city can pay people in the same rank different wages.

On the advice of its lawyers, the city believed otherwise, which prompted the 18-month holdup.

The Yukon Human Rights Commission was asked for its opinion on the matter.

It sided with the union on Christmas Eve.

The whole costly debacle was unnecessary, said Graham, who sided with the union from the get-go.

If council had listened to him from the start, it could have saved up to $200,000, he said.

The cost for the negotiations, legal advice and retroactive pay to employees has not yet been figured out, said Schewfelt on Tuesday.

The settlement awards an 8.5 per cent raise to all city employees, excluding the firefighters and management, over the next four years.

The firefighters’ contract is still awaiting a court decision and remains unresolved.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Most Read