(Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse city workers file for mediation

Strike ‘the last bargaining chip that the members have,’ union president says

City workers and transit staff have filed for mediation with the City of Whitehorse, said Steve Geick, president of the Yukon Employees Union, on Feb. 27.

In October 2017, locals Y023 and Y022 filed for conciliation with the city after bargaining in an effort to resolve issues around wages and working conditions.

Geick said these issues include the removal of severance pay for those who resign or retire and restricting the long service bonus, which is the equivalent of two per cent of an annual salary.

‘It’s not a great way to encourage new people to come to (work for) the city,” said Geick of axing the bonus.

“It creates a lot of animosity.”

At a YEU meeting the week of Feb. 19, roughly 150 of the 330 employees in locals Y023 and Y022 were in attendance. They voted to move from conciliation into mediation.

The locals are now at the beginning of a 21-day cool-down period, during which time Geick said they will continue to try to negotiate with the city. That period will come to an end on March 17. At that point, the union has 72 hours wherein employees could be locked out or go on strike.

“Everybody, when they hear the word strike, everybody freaks out,” said Geick. “It’s not really good for anybody but at the end of the day it’s the last bargaining chip that the members have.”

He said he couldn’t speculate what form a strike might take — whether it be a rotating strike, or one that includes picket lines.

In a statement, the city said it respects the bargaining process.

“It is unfortunate the unions walked away from conciliation talks last week.… When the union walked away from talks, there was a significant gap between the economic ask of the unions and what the employer could offer.”

The statement said the city is trying to work with unions to designate essential services for Whitehorse residents. It is currently independently reviewing its strike plan, which identifies those services.

Geick said if there is a strike mandate from membership, it doesn’t mean negotiations will stop.

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

Just Posted

Remembering Capt. Dick Stevenson, the inventor of the sourtoe cocktail

The Captain, who created the drink that in turn created countless honourary… Continue reading

YG releases ‘ambitious’ plan to combat climate change

It calls for lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030

CPAWS Yukon ‘disappointed’ controversial writer to give keynote at Yukon Geoscience Forum

Vivian Krause is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the forum on Nov. 16.

PSAC president speaks out about Queen’s Printer, Central Stores situation

‘It’s not good for the Yukon. It’s not good for the taxpayers of the Yukon.’

Whitehorse biathlete Nadia Moser earns IBU World Cup spot on Canadian team

Whitehorse’s Nadia Moser will begin the biathlon season at the IBU World… Continue reading

Whitehorse Glacier Bears host swimmers from Inuvik and B.C. at Ryan Downing Memorial Invitational Swim Meet

“Everyone had a good time – it was amazing. It was a really great meet.”

City news, briefly

Some of the decisions made at the Nov. 12 Whitehorse council meeting

Driving with Jens: Yielding is at the heart of defensive driving

If you’re like most people, you probably think about whether you have right-of-way, not yielding

Today’s mailbox: Remembrance Day, highway work

Letters to the editor published Nov. 13

F.H. Collins Warriors beat Vanier Crusaders in Super Volley boys volleyball final

“As long as we can control their big plays to a minimum, we’ll be successful”

Yukonomist: The squirrel, the husky and the rope

The squirrel is political popularity.

Most Read