YELLOWKNIFE: On Feb 15th, union leaders invited Yellowknife’s Mayor and Council to meet with us and discuss some of the issues our members are experiencing. Mayor Alty refused, saying it would be inappropriate for us to have discussions behind closed doors because it was a matter before Council.
On Feb 23rd, the UNW local 345 president registered with the City to speak at Monday’s Council meeting about the strike/lockout to publicly share workers’ perspectives, as is her democratic right as resident. That same day, the City Clerk refused her presentation as well as a presentation from a member of the public, saying it would be inappropriate to make a public presentation on “personnel matters” before council.
The City of Yellowknife can’t have it both ways; if the strike / lockout is a matter before Council, as the Mayor states, then Council needs to address it during council meetings or, at the very least, allow constituents to speak to it so they can have their voice heard. If it is not, then the City should have no problem with Councilors meeting with Union leaders to hear what the workers they represent have to say.
If council is not willing to discuss this with residents or union leaders behind closed doors or in public, how can they be accountable to residents? How will they make the most informed decisions? Is their only source of information the City administration?
When will the Mayor and Councilors visit picket lines and talk to striking and locked out workers?
Are our elected City Councilors accountable to the public, or to City administration? Was City Council elected to represent all Yellowknife residents, or only repeat talking points from City management?
It appears City administration will stop at nothing to smear its own workers in public, try to bully them into giving up their right to strike and negotiate a fair deal, and control what Council hears and does.
We encourage all Yellowknifers to reach out to their elected Councilors and ask them to bring the City back to the negotiating table, rather than try to silence workers and force them back to work through arbitration.
Gayla Thunstrom, UNW President
Lorraine Rousseau, PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President, North
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