The union representing Whitehorse transit workers has served the City of Whitehorse with a strike notice that will be effective March 19 at 6 a.m. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)

Transit workers serve City of Whitehorse strike notice

Residents advised to make alternate travel arrangements starting March 19

The union representing Whitehorse transit workers has served the City of Whitehorse with a strike notice.

According to a press release from the city, that strike mandate will be effective March 19 at 6 a.m.

Steve Geick, president of the Yukon Employees Union, said on the morning of March 16 that the union didn’t know what form the strike would take, but would be working to figure that out over the course of the day.

The city advised transit users to start making alternate arrangements for travel next week.

The union had been in talks with the city March 14 and 15.

Locals Y023 (city workers) and Y022 (transit workers) filed for conciliation with the city in October 2017, after bargaining failed to resolve issues around wages and working conditions.

Geick said two of these issues include the removal of severance pay for new employees who quit city jobs to go elsewhere, and restrictions on the long-service bonus for new employees.

On March 13, city manager Linda Rapp told the News that severance and the long-service bonus were priorities for the city.

Myles Dolphin, acting director of communications for the City of Whitehorse, said both issues were tabled in September of 2017 and the unions have not offered counterproposals on either.

Dolphin also said the elimination of severance and restrictions on the long-service bonus for new city and transit workers matches the elimination of the same in agreements with management staff at the city.

Geick said the city’s continued refusal to budge on those issues led to the strike notice.

City workers represented by Local Y023 (including water and waste, operations, finance, bylaw and parks and recreation) have also voted to strike, but have not yet served notice.

Geick said this is because the union is still awaiting an essential services agreement with the city.

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

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