The Yellowknife Gymnastics Club thought it would be able to avoid all of the current labour strife between the city and its unionized workers.
But there are plans for a picket at the Multiplex on Saturday and that means the club isn’t taking any chances.
Steve Thompson, the club’s president, said on Friday evening that he had seen a copy of a memo that was sent to union members stating that the Multiplex would be the site for a picket on Saturday. In the memo, the goal is to “see how effective it will be at shutting down the gymnastics events.”
“A couple of our parents received a copy of it either late yesterday or early today (Friday),” said Thompson. “I saw it (Friday) morning and that’s when I made the decision to close the club out of safety to our members.”
In a previous interview with NNSL Media earlier this week, Thompson indicated that this very scenario was the one which he was most concerned about. He said during that interview that he would not force his members to cross a picket line and that’s what he’s doing with this shutdown.
“We’re not going to gain anything by trying to do that and I can’t ask our members to cross a picket line,” said Thompson. “I’m not going to put them in that situation.”
After seeing the memo, Thompson said he got in touch with union representatives, who assured him that the planned picket wasn’t meant to target the gymnastics club in particular.
“They e-mailed us and they were very cordial, not ignorant about the situation at all, and they told me that they understand (the club) isn’t a part of this,” he said. “I was told all they were going to do is picket and talk to people who came up to inform them about what was going on.”
Thompson said he asked the union if they would let their members pass through to enter the side door of the club, which is the entrance that the club was using while the Multiplex was closed.
“The last e-mail contact I had was at 6 p.m. (Friday) and there was no indication,” he said.
The club is located at the Multiplex, but is in the unique situation of owning its portion of the building outright. In addition to having its own entrance/exit, it also has washroom facilities located near the main doors inside the Multiplex.
Having to cancel sessions on Saturday means another day of lost revenue for a club which is already in a perilous financial position, according to Thompson.
He said refunds will have to be given for the missed classes on Saturday and that only adds to the money problems.
“We lost a lot of revenue during the pandemic and we haven’t been able to fully recover from that,” he said. “Having to give refunds just makes it even tougher for us to operate. We’re going session by session to try and get an operating budget and we can’t even put one together right now. We’re trying to avoid taking on more debt, but we can’t survive without revenue.”
The club launched a fundraising campaign earlier this week to try and boost revenue and financial resources.
While Saturday is a wash, there could be trouble on Sunday as Thompson said he’s heard there could be another picket at the Multiplex that day as well.
But the message Thompson is trying to hammer home is that the club wants to remain neutral in this whole thing.
“We’re not taking sides in this,” he said. “We work with both the city and those in the union and the last thing we want to do is get dragged into this dispute. I hope this gets solved soon.”