The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) served the City of Whitehorse with strike notice this morning. The union and the city are scheduled to negotiate both contracts all weekend, but Yukon Employees Union president Steve Geick said he is “confident” a deal can be reached. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)

Union serves City of Whitehorse with strike notice

Officials hope to avert work stoppage with weekend-long bargaining sessions

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) served the City of Whitehorse with strike notice this morning.

The notice covers both City of Whitehorse transit workers, who have been on a work-to-rule campaign since March 19, as well as other city employees.

The union and the city are scheduled to negotiate both contracts all day Saturday and Sunday and part of Monday. Yukon Employees Union president Steve Geick said he is “confident” a deal can be reached.

But if that doesn’t happen both city workers and transit workers will be in a position to strike as of Monday at 8 a.m.

“If we do go on strike on Monday morning the work-to-rule will become an all-out (strike and) we’re not working,” Geick said. That goes for both transit workers and other city employees, he said.

If the weekend negotiations don’t work out, the next dates that the mediator is available are in May, Geick said.

Local Y023 includes water and waste, operations, finance, bylaw, and parks and recreation staff.

Those employees were not in a position to serve strike notice until an essential services agreement was reached with the city.

In a statement, the City of Whitehorse said it has developed a strike plan in the event of a strike by employees.

“A maintenance of activities agreement between the city and PSAC is also in place, and will ensure essential services are addressed,” the statement says. “City firefighters are members of a different union and are not part of this labour disruption.”

City spokesperson Myles Dolphin said the agreement outlines essential services, what they are, and how people would be called in.

“Some examples of that would be dealing with dangerous animals, emergency repairs to heavy equipment, road-clearing for emergency vehicles, etc.” he said in an email.

“The previous agreement was completed in 2006 so it needed an update. We hope we don’t have to use it though.”

The city says it will be using its social media pages, as well as its website, to provide updates to the public as information becomes available.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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