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Whitehorse shelter workers among newly unionized Connective staff in the Yukon

About 80 workers are part of the new bargaining unit
The Whitehorse Emergency Shelter is seen on Jan. 24, 2023. The transition of the shelter under Yukon government management to Connective as operator and the Council of Yukon First Nations as sub-contractor drove the unionization of about 80 Connective workers in the Yukon. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)

Dozens of Connective Support Society workers in the Yukon have unionized, according to a joint release from the Public Service Alliance of Canada North and the Yukon Employees’ Union.

The Jan. 12 release indicates Connective employees have joined the Public Service Alliance, and the Canadian Industrial Relations Board has certified the unionization.

About 80 workers from the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter, Supervised Housing and Reintegration Program, Housing First building and Whitehorse Residential Support are part of the new bargaining unit.

“Employers who welcome the presence of a union in the workplace are few and far between,” Yukon Employees’ Union president Steve Geick, said in the release.

“Yukon Employees’ Union and the Public Service Alliance of Canada look forward to working together with Connective staff in the territory to build a strong first collective agreement.”

In the release, Lorraine Rousseau, vice president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada North regional executive, said the unionizing workers provide crucial support to the community.

“This work is meaningful, and we are happy to support the efforts of workers to negotiate a fair first collective agreement,” Rousseau said.

Connective, which is formerly known as the John Howard Society, operates across British Columbia and the Yukon. It took over from the Yukon government as operator of the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter on Oct. 1, 2022, with the Council of Yukon First Nations as a sub-contractor.

In a Jan. 24 email, Liz Vick, Connective’s vice president of strategy, said the shelter transition drove the unionization process forward.

“We are very pleased to be moving forward with the process of unionization for our team at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter,” Vick said.

Connective had been fielding “lots of questions” from staff about the difference between a unionized and non-unionized organization, Vick said. Given its staff are represented by unions in British Columbia, Connective wanted to give workers the same or equivalent employee experience, regardless of where they work in B.C. or the Yukon.

Vick said Connective went to the Yukon Employees’ Union to chat about their goal and to better understand the process of inviting unionization and to encourage them to take control of the process. That process has been underway since November, with discussions being struck up over a year ago.

“Our working relationships with employee unions remain positive and fruitful across our organization, so we essentially expect the same as we move forward,” Vick said. “The process seems to be moving along smoothly and our leadership team has had no major concerns, nor have we heard any from our staff.”


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Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
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