Four out of five substitute teachers who launched lawsuits against the Yukon’s Department of Education last year alleging unpaid wages have withdrawn their claims in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

UPDATED: Substitute teachers withdraw lawsuits in light of YTA’s new collective agreement

Substitute teachers will be allowed to join the YTA under its newly-ratified collective agreement

Four out of five substitute teachers who launched lawsuits against the Yukon’s Department of Education last year alleging unpaid wages have quietly withdrawn their claims in recent months, with the fifth planning on following suit as well.

In separate interviews Jan. 17, three of them said that’s because they’ve finally received what they’ve ultimately wanted all along — for the Yukon government to allow them to join the Yukon Teachers’ Association (YTA).

Until recently, territorial legislation did not allow for substitute teachers, also known as teachers-on-call, to join the YTA, the union which represents a number of other employees in the education system.

However, the YTA’s new collective agreement, which members voted to ratify on Jan. 14, contains a provision for the Yukon government to amend the territory’s Education Labour Relations Act to allow for substitute teachers to join the YTA’s ranks.

Monique Lange, Ellen Lopushinsky and Sandra Gabb withdrew their lawsuits against the education department in October 2018, about three months after filing them.

In an interview, Lange said that was because they had caught word that the bargaining team at that point had already secured a promise that substitute teachers would be allowed into the YTA.

“Somebody told us, ‘You will be part of the union,’ so we withdrew,” she said.

Although she had asked for $1,921.92 in her claim, Lange said she “never had an intention of even getting the money” — filing a lawsuit was just a way of ensuring that the government would pay attention to what she, and other substitute teachers, had to say.

“(The intention was) to prove a point,” she said.

Lopushinsky agreed, saying she filed, and subsequently withdrew, her lawsuit for similar reasons.

“(The Yukon government) allowed us to be part of the YTA, and that was all I asked for in the beginning, was for someone to talk to me,” Lopushinsky, a longtime Yukon teacher who has been substitute-teaching since 2017, told the News.

“I’m just really excited, because there are some people that make their living at subbing … and I think it’s important that they are able to be represented.”

Gabb declined to comment for this story.

Geoffrey Abbott, who had spearheaded efforts to have substitute teachers allowed into the union, withdrew his lawsuit Jan. 21.

Lauren Lester, the last of the five to still have an active claim, said Jan. 17 she will likely withdraw her lawsuit, too.

Although she’s now on a teaching contract, Lester said she still considers the provision in the new collective agreement to be a positive development.

“I’m happy that it all kind of went through and I’m glad to see that substitute teachers are going to be represented now, because it was definitely a big bummer not being a part of that or being represented (by a union),” she said.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

U Kon Echelon hosts Tour de Skagway

The three-stage race is the final tune up before the Hayman Classic in B.C.

Ice-age giant beaver’s diet of pond weeds likely contributed to extinction, new study says

“You have this animal that’s seven feet tall that just eats little pond weeds”

Dawson conservation officers investigating after garbage, animal parts attracts black bear

Conservation officers found a black bear at the pile at the end of Klondike River access road May 12

Liard First Nation denies it owes investigation company cash

The First Nation is denying allegations it owes $60,000

EDITORIAL: Yes, even killers deserve due process

No one benefits when the Yukon government is focused on denying it uses solitary confinement

Record turnout for Tour de Haines Junction cycling stage race

The field of 21 riders is the largest in the history of the event

Olympic opportunity for Yukon athletes at RBC Training Ground event

“At this age group, it’s just about saying yes to opportunities. Go out. Try it out, if you like it.”

History Hunter: The Dublin Gulch story: Part two

Despite depopulation during World War I, 14 men were reported still engaged… Continue reading

Commentary: Mining for clean energy

The infrastructure for clean energy requires mining

Yukonomist: The Yukon’s first Tesla powers through winter

So far, electric cars are still a novelty in the Yukon

Whitehorse city news, briefly

A summary of some of the decisions made at the May 13 council meeting

Indoor Archery Championship includes best from across the Yukon

The 7th Indoor Archery Yukon Championship was May 5 at Tahkini Elementary… Continue reading

Most Read