Three municipal councillors who are union members have been advised to recuse themselves from city council discussions or votes on decisions pertaining to collective bargaining in order to avoid conflict of interest.

The Union of Northern Workers (UNW) and the Public Service Alliance of Canada — North (PSAC) sent the reminder in writing to councillors Ben Hendriksen, Steve Payne and Rob Warburton on Tuesday.

NNSL Media obtained a copy of the correspondence, sent by email and signed by UNW president Gayla Thunstrom and PSAC regional executive vice-president Lorraine Rousseau. It outlines what is expected of the trio of councillors if picket lines are erected.

The letter communicates that under both organizations’ bylaws and constitutions, it is an offence for a member to “engage in any conduct prejudicial to the good order and welfare of the union.”

The correspondence outlines UNW bylaw 16 relating to discipline, which refers to disciplinary measures for members who “participate in contract negotiations representing management across the table from the union.”

The letter also states that it’s a basic union tenet to “respect all picket lines.”

“In addition to this, UNW members are governed by the PSAC constitution and regulations and UNW bylaws and regulations.”

The correspondence ends with Thunstrom and Rousseau stating that they hope all three councillors will support their fellow union members “as they would support you.”

“We urge you to show respect for these fellow union members and do not cross picket lines, and in fact show your support however you are able,” the letter states.

Unionized city employees are set to walk off the job on Wednesday.

NNSL Media has reached out to Warburton, Payne and Hendriksen for comment and will update this story if they respond.

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

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