UPDATED: February 6, 2023
Response to the letter posted below:
The following letter to Yellowknife Mayor and Council sent on January 31, 2023 from UNW President Gayla Thunstrom and Lorraine Rousseau, Regional Executive Vice President for PSAC North:
Mayor Rebecca Alty
City of Yellowknife
PO Box 580
Yellowknife NT X1A 2N4
Cc: Council Members
Re: Collective Bargaining with PSAC/UNW Local 345, City of Yellowknife
As I know you are aware, collective bargaining between the Union and the Employer City of Yellowknife broke down late last year and went to conciliation.
During conciliation, the Employer gave the Union bargaining team a final offer and refused to negotiate further. The final offer the Employer is attempting to impose is insulting to the bargaining team and the members they represent, so the bargaining team took the decision to the membership through a strike vote.
On January 17, the members showed their support for the bargaining team by voting to strike.
In the lead up to the vote, the Employer’s representative, SAO Sheila Bassi-Kellett, has undertaken an extremely inappropriate email campaign to Union members regarding the negotiations. The Union takes any attempts by an Employer to coerce, intimidate, or threaten our members seriously, and will file an Unfair Labour Practice Complaint in addition to the grievance filed on January 17.
After carrying the City of Yellowknife through two years of pandemic uncertainty and staffing shortages, our Union members - your employees - are feeling a terrible lack of respect through the actions and lack of good faith negotiations by the Employer. It is ultimately you and City Council who set the mandate.
On behalf of our members – who are also Yellowknife residents and taxpayers – we are appealing to you as the governing body of the Employer to tell your representatives to return to negotiations with a new mandate and a mind to good faith bargaining. Direct your bargaining team to present an offer that will improve recruitment and retention, that will allow your workers to keep up to the rising cost of living, and that will show City of Yellowknife employees that they are valued and respected.
Rest assured, Union members do not want to disrupt services to the public; it is a last resort. Local 345 members are city residents too - as are their friends, neighbours, and families. They are well aware of the hardship that could result from job action. The Union’s bargaining team wants to return to fair and respectful negotiations.
President, Union of Northern Workers
Regional Executive Vice President President, PSAC North