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City proposes binding arbitration to end strike

The City of Yellowknife is proposing binding arbitration to resolve the strike by unionized municipal staff.
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If the Union of Northern Workers agrees to the City of Yellowknife’s proposal for binding arbitration, it would result in employees returning to work, according to the municipality on Thursday. NNSL file photo

The City of Yellowknife is proposing binding arbitration to resolve the strike by unionized municipal staff.

The process would see both parties share information on their positions with a third-party arbitrator, who would then make a decision.

“An arbitrator aims for a decision that reflects what both parties would have arrived at if they had bargained successfully. The decision is binding on both parties,” the city stated in a news release issued Thursday afternoon.

The two sides would have to agree on an arbitrator.

“If this offer were accepted by the union, it would mean employees return to work and city programs and services could resume,” the city added. “The UNW (Union of Northern Workers) has recommended this approach in previous years when the union was unable to reach agreement with other employers.”

The strike by close to 200 city workers began on Feb. 8.

The union stated on Wednesday that its most recent offer was a 3.75 per cent increase for each 2022 and 2023, down from its previous demand of five per cent and three per cent, respectively. The city responded that it would not “entertain our new salary proposal and said once again that they could not meet us on wages,” according to the UNW.

The City of Yellowknife states that it was the last party to make an offer and “has yet to receive a counter-offer from the union since talks broke down Feb. 13, 2023, and the union walked away.”