Yukon Employees Union vice-president Paul Johnston, centre, along with Many Rivers Local Y031 members, rally along Fourth Avenue on Aug. 15, after unionized staff voted in favour of striking Aug. 14. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Many Rivers staff vote to strike

18 counsellors and support staff have been without a contract for over a year

Unionized staff at Yukon’s Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services voted in favour of a strike mandate going into a third round of conciliation Aug. 15.

“They’re a very cohesive group,” said Steve Geick, president of the Yukon Employees Union. He spoke to the News the morning after a bargaining team met with Many Rivers membership to plan a strike vote. “They’ve been quite set on where they want to go with this and that’s amazing.”

“We wanted to go into this third round of conciliation with a good strong strike mandate to show the employer that the members are serious. They’re not going to be second-rate citizens.”

Geick would not say how many staff voted in favour of strike action but said the margin was “substantial.”

He said the union represents 18 counsellors and administrative staff with Many Rivers in Whitehorse, Dawson City, Watson Lake and Haines Junction.

They have been working without a contract for over a year.

Roughly a dozen employees showed up at the High Country Inn the morning of Aug. 15 to stand with placards. Geick said this was meant to demonstrate employees’ commitment to the cause.

He said talks were scheduled for Aug. 15 and 16, with the possibility of extension, depending on the schedules of negotiators and conciliators up from Vancouver and Edmonton.

“We could potentially be at the table Friday,” said Geick.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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