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Yukon Arts Centre staff picket concert

Yukon Arts Centre staff have announced job action
Yukon Arts Centre staff try to convince concert-goers not to cross their picket line for the Basia Bulat show on Oct. 11. About 22 people picketed after declaring job action earlier that day. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)

Yukoners attending Basia Bulat’s concert at the Yukon Arts Centre on Oct. 11 met a picket line at the entrance.

The centre’s approximately 15 employees announced job action earlier in the day. An earlier job action notice was also served on Oct. 7.

Steve Geick, president of the Yukon Employees’ Union representing staff, said they were available “all weekend” to re-enter negotiations.

Geick said the union also alerted Bulat’s agent last week and again the day of the show.

The union asked the public to request a refund for the show, instead of crossing the picket line.

“It is unfortunate that it has come to this point,” Geick said in a written statement.

“The employer needs to start treating our members like the professionals that they are and show them the respect that they deserve.”

Employees’ Union President Steve Geick (right) pickets outside the Yukon Arts Centre with employees on Oct. 11. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Employees’ Union President Steve Geick (right) pickets outside the Yukon Arts Centre with employees on Oct. 11. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)

The sticking point in negotiations is a new multi-tier wage structure. It places some new employees in the same wage classification as staff who have worked one or two years.

“What we’re trying to do is ensure that people who have been there for years don’t make the same money as someone who walks in there tomorrow,” Geick told the News in an Oct. 11 interview.

“We are looking for a little more money.”

Nobody’s wage was being threatened with cuts under the new system, he clarified.

“They want to be respected for the number of years in service they have, which, under the new classification system, is not going to happen.”

Yukon Arts Centre staff picketed from 6 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 11. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)

Negotiations have been ongoing since April. On Sept. 20, employees “overwhelmingly” voted to support the strike at a staff meeting, according to a press release issued on Sept. 22.

The Yukon Arts Centre Corporation is governed by a board of directors. That board is appointed, with some consultation, by the minister of Tourism and Culture.

Casey Prescott, CEO of the Yukon Arts Centre Corporation, responded to the News’ request for comment with an emailed statement.

“The Yukon Arts Centre and the Public Service Alliance have been engaged in collective bargaining over the past few months,” Prescott said.

“We have not yet reached a new agreement, and look forward to resuming our negotiations. The Yukon Arts Centre values its staff and supports the collective bargaining process and the staff’s right to job action.”

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at