A Whitehorse Transit Handy Bus idles on Wood Street during a work-to-rule campaign by unionized transit staff March 19. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News)

Whitehorse transit workers opt for work-to-rule

Riders urged to check city’s social media to keep up to date on route disruptions

Whitehorse transit employees decided on a work-to-rule campaign this week. The move comes after months of talks with the City of Whitehorse over a new collective agreement.

Steve Geick, president of the Yukon Employees Union, said that under work-to-rule, transit employees with Y022 won’t take on any overtime hours. He said he doesn’t know how many overtime hours the average transit employee works, but he would guess it’s “a fair amount.”

“I don’t know for sure, but I do know for sure that a lot of times if they can’t find a driver, a driver will stay on,” he said.

Myles Dolphin, acting communications director with the City of Whitehorse, confirmed that over the last two pay periods, (which cover one month), the average overtime for transit staff has been 102 hours, or about 25.5 hours a week.

Prior to that, the average was between eight and 14 hours a week.

Geick also said employees will take regular breaks. This means when scheduled break times hit, drivers could pull over and let passengers off the bus rather than continuing on to the next stop before taking a break.

Geick said this will likely cause delays.

As of Monday afternoon, the city had posted a handful of cancellations online and to social media. These included various routes such as the #2 Copper Ridge-Granger, the #1 Porter Creek Express, the #1 Riverdale North, and the #4 Porter Creek Crestview.

On Wednesday morning, trips to Takhini and Copper Ridge were cancelled.

Geick said the union will re-assess the decision daily. Potential changes will depend on the city’s response.

“It could depend on a lot of things really,” he said.

Members of local Y023 (city workers including water and waste, operations, finance and bylaw) are still waiting to come to an essential services agreement with the city.

Talks began between the city and the YEU in the fall of 2017. The majority of workers voted in early March to strike.

There were day-long conciliation talks the week of March 12. Those talks continued the night of March 16, but no agreements were reached.

Geick said the conciliator is not available for another bargaining session until April.

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

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