Negotiations between PSAC/YEU and the Government of Yukon began in late 2021. Since June 2022, the parties (union and management) have worked with a federally appointed conciliator in an effort to reach a negotiated contract. On January 12th 2023, the conciliator concluded that mediation was not successful in bringing the parties to an agreement. Therefore, we’re now at impasse and will be moving forward with a conciliation board.
The government is not listening to us or taking our issues seriously. Key demands remain outstanding including those related to fair pay, adequate recruitment and retention measures, and the health and safety of both government workers and the public. And the government still wants to take away members’ severance.
We may be forced into a position where we need to show the employer just how strong and united we are, and that includes preparing for potential strike action.
We thought we’d provide a step-by-step explanation of the YG Bargaining Proces showing where we are now and what’s next.
If the union and the employer can’t reach a tentative agreement, they can declare an impasse. This means they’ve gone as far as they can with no resolution in sight. At this stage, the union has options
Requesting a Conciliator (mediator):
They can enlist the assistance of an independent mediator/conciliator, who attempts to work with both sides and bring them closer to agreement. This step is required before proceeding to a conciliation board.
The union and management sides can proceed with binding arbitration, where a third party imposes a decision on the unsettled issues.
Request a Conciliation Board:
The union can request a conciliation board consisting of a three-person panel – one person chosen by the union, one chosen by the employer, and a mutually chosen chairperson.
The conciliation board sets dates, hears arguments from both parties in support of their positions, and issues a non-binding report. This process can take several months but must be completed before strike action can take place. The best outcome at this stage is for the union and the employer to resume bargaining in light of the recommendations. If there is still no agreement at the end of this process, strike action may be possible. (WE ARE HERE, March 15 2023)
Let’s Organize to WIN
When bargaining breaks down, members play a critical role in pressuring the employer to reach a fair settlement. While bargaining progresses, you can stay informed by signing up for bargaining updates and information events. You can show the union is serious by calling and visiting your Member of the Legislative Assembly and asking for their help in moving the employer to make a better offer. You can join in mobilization efforts by getting in contact with the Whitehorse regional office. And the #1 thing you can do to make a difference right now is talk to your coworkers. Make sure they know what’s going on and plan something in your workplace together!
Information sessions are being offered to answer all of your bargaining and organizing questions. The more proactive and organized we are, the more likely it is that we’ll get a respectful deal at the table.
All About Strikes
Preparing for Strike Action
- Strike action can commence if all of the following conditions are met:
- The union and management have not been able to reach a tentative agreement;
- 14 days have elapsed since a conciliation board report was provided to the Chair of the Labour Relations Board;
- The union has given the employer at least 48 hours’ notice of their intention to strike;
- Members have voted in favour of a strike through a strike vote; and
- The PSAC National President has authorized strike action.
Bringing a Strike Vote to the Members
When bargaining has not gone well, members may need to take strike action to get the improvements to the agreement they need. This is a possibility during every round of bargaining.
When there are big differences between the changes members want and what the employer is prepared to offer, and it looks like it will take more than talk to move the employer, PSAC organizes a strike vote for members of the bargaining unit who are in good standing. Members who have signed a union card have the opportunity to vote for or against strike action. If you have not yet signed a union card but would like to participate in a strike vote, you can sign your card electronically at www.psacunion.com/rand.
Taking a strike vote doesn’t automatically mean that there will be a strike. There is nothing stopping the union and employer from meeting again at any time. It may happen before a strike occurs or while a strike is taking place.
The best outcome is when the parties reach a tentative agreement before a strike takes place. But sometimes it takes a strike to get the employer to make a better offer by showing how seriously members support their bargaining demands. When a strike takes place, the parties usually reach an agreement voluntarily.
During the bargaining process, the union and the employer work to determine which services will be considered essential and continue in the event of a strike. Members in positions where work has been deemed essential will be required to work during a strike but can support striking members in other ways.
It is the employer’s responsibility to provide ‘essential’ workers with a letter notifying them of their status.
Choosing the Type of Strike
The purpose of a strike is to put the maximum amount of pressure on YG in order to reach a settlement. When talks break down, the union assesses what kind of action may be needed to get the employer to make the best possible offer.
Finalizing a New Agreement
Whenever the union and the employer agree on a tentative agreement, the members have the final say. Meetings are held to explain the changes in the tentative agreement and a ratification vote is held. If a majority of members vote in favour, a new collective agreement will be signed.
If members reject the tentative agreement before strike action has been needed, this could trigger more bargaining and/or a strike. If a strike was already in progress, it may continue. At some point, the strike will end and there will be a new agreement negotiated by the team and ratified by the members.