Union votes down 1.7 per cent offer

The strike signs stand unattended on the picket line last Saturday in front of the fire hall. Strikers voted against accepting an increase of 1.7 per cent for three years last week.

The strike signs stand unattended on the picket line last Saturday in front of the fire hall. Strikers voted against accepting an increase of 1.7 per cent for three years last week.

Municipal workers voted down the latest offer from the town last week, but are still at the table, according to Public Service Alliance of Canada representative Jack Bourassa.

“They overwhelmingly voted against the offer,” he said, adding that the figure he was given was “over two thirds” in terms of a majority.

The town’s offer of 1.7 per cent for three years was presented May 25, but there was some confusion over some of the stipulations attached to it. The town maintains that the bargaining team for the union agreed to take the offer back to the members, but when that failed to happen right away, union members said they would not take the matter to a vote without a back-to-work agreement in place establishing the terms and conditions that would govern the employees’ return to work.

With the agreement in place, the vote took place the night of June 16, and the offer was rejected. Bourassa said the process showed that, contrary to what some community members believe, the local membership is fully in control of the situation here and not taking orders from Yellowknife union headquarters.

“I’m certainly hopeful that they can reach a deal that they can live with, but it’s not up to me or anyone else outside of the membership to decide what that should be,” he said. “This isn’t coming from Yellowknife, this is a decision from the membership.”

For now, Mayor Andrew Cassidy said the offer has fallen back to 1.5 per cent for three years, the offer that has previously been on the table. He also said the back-to-work agreement had a sunset clause and would now have to be re-negotiated.

In late February, the town was unmoving at a one per cent raise for a two-year term, while the union was demanding 2.5, 2.25 and 2.25 per cent raises over three years respectively. The strike has been ongoing since Feb. 9.

A news release from the town indicated the mayor and council are reviewing options.

“Hay River Town Council and administration will be reviewing options in the subsequent days and would like to ensure the residents that while we are committed to finding a resolution to the strike, we also understand the need for providing the level of service our town residents expect and deserve.”

–Sarah Ladik