Here’s looking at YEU in 2015; thanks for a great 2014!

steve elizabeth food bankThis has been a busy year. We have welcomed workers into the YEU Hall from four new bargaining units. These, our newest members, have made the sometimes difficult decision to pursue unionization as a means to an equitable workplace. 2014 saw us announce the certification of Help & Hope for Families in Watson Lake, Takhini Transport bus drivers, the municipal workers of Haines Junction and the support staff of Teegatha’Oh Zheh.

In each case, unionizing was a decision made by the employees and they approached us for help moving forward. We are grateful that they look to us for assistance in crafting contract language to improve their working lives.

YEU had our Triennial Convention in October; we welcomed new faces to our Executive and bid a grateful farewell to several outgoing elected officials. Loralee Kesler served three terms as our elected VP, and we wish her all the very best as she begins her next adventures. Brother Blair Andre (Brother Bear) has stepped away from our Executive, as have Sister Girlie Austin and Brother Mark Bowers. We are grateful for their long service as activist Directors on the YEU Executive.

We also bid farewell, in a way, to our long time activist Jack Bourassa in June when he was elected Regional Executive Vice-President of the North for PSAC. He has relocated with his family to Yellowknife but his work is pan-northern and he will continue to be a fixture in the Yukon through his term as REVP.

YEU has seen several staffing changes over the last year, as we say adieu to long time staffers and welcome new faces and energy. If you haven’t popped in to meet everyone yet, please do… we’re a friendly bunch and the coffee is always on.

Looking ahead, we’re excited to launch into 2015. This year will mark the 50th Anniversary of this small northern union. What began as a small regional group of upstarts challenging the status quo has evolved into a much larger group of upstarts challenging the status quo…. Some things don’t really change I guess!

Our community involvement continues, and I’m very proud of the work done by our activists, Locals and even staff over the last year. We have participated in events that bring attention to some serious issues nationally and locally. We have helped raise awareness, funds and food for the Whitehorse Food Bank and honoured Human Rights Day with a series of meaningful talks. Our activists work on committees that are out there doing real work all year long, often without any acknowledgement or reward. We thank them, and invite all of you to join a committee or come out next time we join a community challenge.

The year is shaping up to be a busy one internally for YEU as well. We have a lot of work planned; there are issues we plan to address in the delivery of training for our Shop Stewards, in the support offered to our Locals and more. As always, we appeal to you… the members, to guide our work. Here’s an invitation to join a training discussion for Stewards January 22nd; if you’re a Steward, PLEASE find time to attend. If you wonder why your workplace doesn’t have a Steward, call us.

And hey… if you came out to one of our events in the last year, thanks! Our plan is to carry on. In fact we’ve proudly made donations once again this year to a number of local groups. We also plan to keep that up.

This is, now as it was 50 years ago, YOUR union. YEU is a small but mighty union, and we are bucking the trends. While other unions shrink, we continue to grow in strength and in numbers.

So here’s to you this holiday. We wish you a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and Solidarity Forever!

Doing the Pronoun Dance with Chase Blodgett

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During the YEU’s recent Human Rights Speaker Series, YEU was happy to welcome Yukon Trans* man Chase Blodgett to our hall to give a presentation. Invited by the PSAC’s very active Pride Committee, Chase walked us all through the complicated world he is navigating as he completes paperwork, plays hockey and plans the medical care his transition will require. A reporter from the Yukon News attended Chase’s YEU Human Rights Speaker Series talk, and wrote this great article. http://www.yukon-news.com/news/trans-man-pushes-for-human-rights-changes/

Chase has been a powerful advocate for the rights of transgendered people in the Yukon. Very recently the Whitehorse Women’s Hockey Association announced a ground breaking policy, allowing Chase to continue to play in the league while creating a safe space so that anyone who was born or identifies as a woman is welcome. While Chase is working through the issues surrounding his own journey, the groundwork will be laid for those who follow in his footsteps… or skate tracks. Read more here: http://www.whitehorsestar.com/Sports/women-s-league-oks-inclusive-transgender-policy

If you weren’t able to join us and want to watch the talk, please watch all three parts below or on the Yukon Employees’ Union’s YouTube channel

At YEU’s recent Triennial Convention, the delegation voted to ensure language and policy is adopted by our organization to create a truly inclusive union. The Public Service Alliance of Canada (of which YEU is a component) is a leader in equity advocacy and trans rights. YEU is proud to work with groups like the PSAC Pride Committee and outstanding individuals like Chase.

Happy Holidays from YEU to YOU!

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There are many important days of observance during the month of December.  We start the month with World Aids Day December 1, observe a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women December 6, celebrate International Human Rights Day on December 10th, the winter solstice December 21st and of course Christmas Day December 25th. While many of these days are quietly noted and honored privately with our families, we at YEU have been thankful for the opportunity to join in community observation a few times this month.

The December 6th ceremony in the Elijah Smith Building, honoring the women killed at Montreal’s École Polytechnique in 1989 was moving and powerful. As a community, we pledged to work harder to change the narrative and keep Yukon’s women safe.  Thank you to the PSAC Regional Women’s Committee for your work and efforts to support not just this event, but the continued commitment to women of the north.

International Human Rights Day was observed at YEU through our Human Rights Speaker Series. This four-day event offered informal presentations over the noon hour from December 9th through 12th, covering topics reflecting human rights & social justice issues. We thank everyone who spoke, and all who came to listen and question, learn and challenge. Again we wish to thank the PSAC Pride Committee, whose event featuring Chase Blodgett added much to the week. Chase Blodgett’s presentation on navigating legislation as a Yukon trans man was informative, offering us an invitation to think about gender and social interaction very differently.

We capped off a week of talking (and listening and eating!) with a wonderful Free Family Skate at the Canada Games Centre. For the third year we invited anyone and everyone to strap on a pair of skates, sip some hot chocolate courtesy of the PSAC Regional Youth Committee, and enjoy a stress free family afternoon. We were delighted to see the highest turnout ever, with all ages enjoying a chance to spend time together.

As we wind down (wind up?)  to Christmas, we enjoyed a chance to do some good for the Salvation Army’s residents and guests. Saturday December 20th started very early, with an 8am call at Superstore. There, volunteers loaded carts and boxes with all the fixings for the Salvation Army’s traditional Christmas dinner. 15 turkeys, pounds and pounds of carrots, potatoes and onions, stuffing and treats were delivered before the sun was up on the last Saturday before Christmas.  This shopping expedition has happened annually for more than 10 years, PSAC Area Council’s ongoing commitment to the community.

We want to wish you and your family every happiness this holiday season. We hope that 2015 brings happiness and prosperity to our members and our communities. From all of us at YEU to all of YOU, happy holidays!

Straight Talk: That Facebook status is FOREVER!

What happens on Facebook never stays on Facebook, and the internet is forever. If you beak off on Facebook or Twitter (or any public forum) about your boss, your coworkers, your employer or your workplace you may have broken your contract with your employer. If you are fired (and there’s a strong chance you will be), your union can’t do much for you. More and more frequently in recent years, online “off-gassing” has landed irate employees amongst the ranks of the unemployed.

There have been cases in Canada of workers being fired for online rants & comments unrelated to their employment but offensive in nature and contrary to the  values of their employer.  While this is a new reality in Canada there are a growing number of cases in which employees have lost their jobs for online comments in public forums.

We are a small community in the Yukon; there are few degrees of separation and the comment you make online anonymously or with a made up name is often far less anonymous than you might wish.  Closed groups on Facebook are not watertight either;  comments made in a closed online group can be copied, shared, printed, screen shot saved and so on.  The best advice is to avoid mentioning your work or clients online and to be very careful of both your privacy settings and of who you have as Facebook friends. When did you last review your Facebook friends list? How about Twitter – who follows you there? With so many new social media platforms it’s easy to lose track of the potential impact your posts could have.

There are lots of places to turn when you have a genuine problem in the workplace. Keep your work issues OFF your social media pages & out of the press.

Curious about your employer’s social media policy? Contact your HR department. Call your Union if you need help at work; 667-2331