Negotiations between the municipality and the Union of Northern Workers (UNW) have failed again.
The two parties agreed to return to the bargaining table on Monday but the UNW left at 6 p.m. without responding to the city’s latest offer, according to a news release from the City of Yellowknife on Tuesday.
The municipality expressed its disappointment that the UNW departed without responding to what the city believes is a fair offer.
Included in the city’s proposal is base wage increases of two per cent per year for 2022 and 2023, and a one-time inflation adjustment and signing bonus of $1,500 for full-time employees, $750 for part-time and seasonal employees, and $250 for casual part-time employees, paid as a lump-sum upon ratification.
The municipality also offered the following: a pension plan with an eight per cent annual contribution from the employer; $5,100 per year in vacation travel allowances; a housing allowance of $1,400 per year; 15 to 30 days of paid vacation leave every year, based on length of service; four days of paid vacation travel time every year; 15 annual paid sick days that can be accumulated with no limit; 13 paid holidays (such as Canada Day, Thanksgiving, etc.); paid leave for life events like marriage or bereavement; severance pay upon retirement up to a maximum of 25 weeks; and a $1,000 bonus for every five years of service.
UNW President Gayla Thunstrom and Lorraine Rousseau, PSAC North regional executive vice-president, stated in a news release on Tuesday that the UNW’s bargaining team offered two more proposals to the city within the past week.
Thunstrom and Rousseau added that the municipality’s bargaining team said they will not be moving from their offer of a two per cent wage increase.
“The actions of the employer have so far indicated that they have no intention of reaching a fair deal and would rather close facilities and punish the public as leverage to force members into a bad deal,” stated the two union executives. “Our members are ready and willing to bargain, and we encourage the employer to reach out to whoever is calling the shots over at the city to provide a new mandate that will allow negotiations to continue.”
They also stated that the UNW’s bargaining team acknowledged that they were closer than ever to making a deal with the municipality, but coming back to the negotiations table would be pointless until the city is willing to discuss wages.
Reilly Hinchey, Local 345 president and member of the bargaining team, said, “We tried our best to get a fair deal yesterday.
“Hearing that the city is unwilling to move on wages, we did not think it would be fair to sit in a warm room knowing that it was all pointless.
“Today we will be out walking the picket line with our co-workers in the freezing cold.”
The municipality’s offer of base wage increases of two per cent per year for 2022 and 2023 has not increased since its last offer.
Kerry Thistle, the City of Yellowknife’s director of economic development and strategy, told Yellowknifer on behalf of the municipality: “The main difference between the city’s current offer and previous offers is the one-time inflation adjustment: $1,500 for full time employees, $750 for part-time and seasonal employees and $250 for casual part-time employees, paid as a lump-sum on ratification.”
Unionized city employees began their strike on Feb. 8.