Around 30 hotel restaurant workers voted to join a union.
A vote was held in three sessions until 10 p.m. last Thursday for restaurant, kitchen and bar staff at The Deck and Morels, the two restaurants at the Coast High Country Inn.
Approximately 70 per cent of the workers came to vote, with “a vast majority” of them agreeing to be part of the union, said Matthew Magoffin, an organizer with the United Association.
Bartenders, some of whom have been working at The Deck and Morels for years, first approached Magoffin in March, he said.
By the end of May, an application was made to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board to certify the United Association as the official representative of the workers.
It’s the first time Whitehorse hotel workers have joined the union, said Magoffin. “They wanted to find a way of sorting out issues instead of being on their own,” he said.
The High Country Inn partnered with the franchise in December to use their branding and access a larger market.
But that doesn’t have anything to do with why the workers wanted to unionize, Magoffin said.
Management is worried about increasing wages, said Northern Vision Development CEO Rich Thompson, who oversees the High Country Inn.
The application to join a union “came out of the blue,” Thompson said. “Once the process starts you’re not really able to intervene and understand in any way, really. We don’t really have an appreciation for what their specific motivations were,” he added.
Northern Vision Development also owns the Edgewater Hotel and Best Western Gold Rush Inn, but the workers there are not unionized. This is the first time their staff have joined a union.
The Deck and Morels staff are paid a “competitive wage,” Thompson said. It would be “a challenge” if the workers ask for a wage increase, considering the restaurant is not very profitable, he said.
Wages are not the underlying issue, Magoffin said. It was more about “workplace harmony,” “conflict resolution,” and “hiring protocol,” but he wouldn’t get into specifics.
It could have a positive or negative effect on the hotel, depending on what the negotiations are, said Thompson. “We have no experience with unions and so we don’t have any pre-set notions of whether this is a good or bad thing.”
Magoffin plans to meet with the newly added members of the union next week. The union will work with Northern Vision to reach a fair deal, he said.
“They’re good employers and they’ve done a lot of good things in the Yukon,” Magoffin said.
Staff at The Deck and Morels fluctuates between 23-35 employees, depending on the season, he said.
Contact Krystle Alarcon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the only other unionized restaurant workers in the territory are found at Diamond Tooth Gerties in Dawson City.
We have since been notified by Bill Holmes, the casino manager, that while Diamond Tooth Gerties is unionized by PSAC, the concession is contracted out and therefore falls outside of the union agreement. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.