Yukon government cancels tender after pressure from union

The Yukon government has cancelled a request for proposals for surveying work after being accused of kowtowing to lobbyists. But the union says it's too little, too late.

The Yukon government has cancelled a request for proposals for surveying work after being accused of kowtowing to lobbyists.

But the union says it’s too little, too late.

The issue surrounds a request for proposals that the Department of Community Services issued for the Whistle Bend subdivision. The work was scheduled to begin in May.

Steve Geick, president of the Yukon Employees Union, says a group of four surveyors – seasonal Yukon government employees – were scheduled to be recalled for work this spring.

But instead they were told in January that there was no work to be had.

“We corresponded with the department and with the Public Service Commission and we were assured that there was nothing on the table coming up so they were going to lay these people off,” Geick said.

He estimates that last conversation happened some time in March.

“And then lo and behold this tender pops up, dated April 15.”

Geick said the four seasonal workers have been employed every year for at least the last 10.

They usually get recalled in May, but last year were called in a month earlier because of the workload, he said.

The union claims it has documents, obtained through the Yukon’s information and privacy legislation, that show the Department of Community Services was lobbied by private interests to privatize the job.

But Geick insists he can’t make the documents public because the union has filed a grievance against the Yukon government in this case.

“It could affect the outcome of the grievances if it happened to go to arbitration,” he said.

The grievance will be going directly to the Public Service Commissioner for consideration, Geick said.

On Monday, after the union went public with its concerns, Department of Community Services spokesperson Ben Yu Shott said the controversial tender had been cancelled.

“We were advised that the Yukon Employees Union raised the concern about the tender that was issued by Community Services,” he said.

“That tender has been cancelled. We respect that the union has the duty to ensure the care and consideration regarding the employment of their members. We’re setting up a face-to-face meeting with the union to address their concerns.”

The meeting is scheduled for today. Geick said the cancellation of the tender is “too little, too late.” The union’s grievance will still be moving forward.

“Some of these people, as it was seasonal work, may have already left town, I don’t know,” he said.

The union alleges that the Yukon government violated the collective agreement.

The document says, in part: “regular indeterminate and seasonal employees will not be laid off, or have their hours reduced, as a result of the employer contracting out work.”

Geick said he’s waiting to see what the government suggests to rectify the situation.

“We do have the option of taking it to arbitration if need be, to get a satisfactory result for our members.”

If some of the four contractors are now living outside the territory, the solution may be more complicated than just calling them back to work, he said.

“We’re going to be much more vigilant in policing what tenders the government puts out,” he said.

Geick also raised concerns that the tender stated that the Yukon Fair Wage Schedule was not going to apply to this work.

The schedule outlines what employees should be paid when contractors are working for the government.

Without the schedule, “they can basically pay their employees whatever they want,” Geick said.

Contact Ashley Joannou at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes


Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Ken Anderson’s Sun and Moon model sculpture sits in the snow as he carves away at the real life sculpture behind Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre for the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival in Whitehorse on Feb. 21, 2018. Yukon Rendezvous weekend kicks off today with a series of outdoor, virtual and staged events. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Rendezvous snowpad, live music and fireworks this weekend

A round-up of events taking place for the 2021 Rendezvous weekend

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. The proposed Atlin Hydro Expansion project is moving closer to development with a number of milestones reached by the Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership and Yukon Energy over the last several months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Atlin hydro project progresses

Officials reflect on milestones reached

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read