A Little Straight Talk about Workplace Discipline

disciplineIn the context of employment, discipline is the employer’s corrective response to a workplace issue, usually related to your performance or behavior. While Employers have the right to discipline employees, there are a number of questions that must be asked and answered before an employee is sanctioned.

First, the employer must establish that you did something “wrong” or acted in a manner that warrants discipline. In most cases, you will be invited to an investigative meeting so that the facts of the matter can be established.  For most employees covered by a Collective Agreement, your right to representation by the Union starts here. Call us for representation.  While some employees choose to go through this step alone, it’s important to remember that if the right questions aren’t addressed at this stage, you may receive discipline that is either not warranted, or more than you deserve.

You have the right to know what you are being disciplined for, and to present your side of the story.

When discipline is being considered, there are a number of factors that the union will insist the employer examines including:

• Did the employee act willfully?
•Was the employee properly trained?
• Has the employee received previous discipline?
• Are there mitigating circumstances?

If the employee’s actions warrant discipline, the next question is “how much is enough?” The employer’s corrective response should match the employee’s actions; discipline is not intended to be punitive. The union will look at whether the amount of discipline is in line with the offence and whether discipline has been progressive.

Progressive discipline provides a graduated range of responses to employee performance or conduct problems. Disciplinary measures range from mild to severe, depending on the nature and frequency of the problem. It is important to keep in mind that your employer is not obliged to follow a specific path; some conduct warrants substantial discipline regardless of the employee’s prior history.

Sometimes it’s not clear whether you’re receiving discipline, or coaching, or a verbal warning. If you are in doubt, or you are called to a meeting that might lead to discipline, call us; 667-2331.

Whitehorse Food Bank Feels the Summer Heat

no-soup-july-2015Every summer the Whitehorse Food Bank faces the same challenge; how to meet increased demand at the same time  both food and cash donations dry up. Families with kids at home struggle to make sure there’s enough food to fill hungry bellies and visitors to the city turn to the Food Bank to help them make it through the summer.

New Executive Director Kyla Merkel has instituted some wonderful new initiatives including Family Day at the emergency food provider. All summer, each Wednesday will be reserved for families with children. At that time, only parents & kids will be allowed in the building. While the adults pick up their once monthly food hamper, children will be able to colour, play with toys and have a healthy snack.

With health in mind, the Food Bank has removed ramen and instant soups from their most requested list. Remember, If you make a food donation be sure to bring your grocery receipt when you drop off food; you will be sent a tax receipt at the end of the year… everyone wins!

How can you help?

Donate money!  Sign up for the Food Bank’s Green Apple Club! Visit www.whitehorsefoodbank.ca and register for easy donations monthly. Even $10/month will help ensure reliable cash flow. You can also donate online at Canada Helps or donate your recycling at Raven; just tell the clerk you’d like your refund donated to the Whitehorse Food Bank.

Donate food! Top items include pasta, canned soup, tinned fruit and vegetables, canned meat, dry cereal, rice & peanut butter. Visit the Donate Food page to learn more.

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Strike Vote, Recession & the 9 Day Fortnight.

yg-hours-cut-aug-6-1982-star Yukon’s economy was in free fall in 1982. The hard rock mining industry had collapsed, mines were shuttered and the territory slid into recession. Hundreds were out of work and recovery looked bleak.  It was against that evolving backdrop that the negotiating team of the YTPSA met with  the Yukon Territorial Government in early 1982.

Still battling wage disparity and the high cost of living in the north, YTPSA opened salary negotiations with an 18% pay raise demand. This was met with a resounding NO by the government who offered 13.5% and no more.  The union and employer battled it out at the table but reached impasse when the government’s offer was rejected by the union. Internal conflict within the Union saw the resignation of 2 of 3 YTPSA bargaining team members.

In May of 1982, Government leader Chris Pearson withdrew the salary offer and chided the union for its attempt to “insulate public servants from the economic environment which provides their livelihood”.

Following the decision of a conciliation board, the Union recommended ratification of a contract containing an increase of 10.2%. A territory wide ratification tour followed, and the ballot boxes returned to Whitehorse to be counted. But while the union was getting the contract ratified, the politicians refused to accept the conciliator’s recommendations. No deal.

YTPSA didn’t bother opening the ballot boxes. Instead, they grabbed new ballot boxes  and hit the road again. This time though, they were looking for a strike mandate; they got it – over 80% of the membership voted in favour of a strike.
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When they returned to Whitehorse, strike vote in hand, both sides met again at the bargaining table. This time they agreed on a 10% raise  and the deal was signed.

Meanwhile, the economic realities of a territory without a hard rock mining industry could not be ignored.  Soon after the contract was signed, the landscape shifted again.

Government leader Chris Pearson rose in the legislature to say “Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the current economic recession is having an impact on Yukon and its people far beyond anything that could have been foreseen six months ago.

The closure of the United Keno Hill mine at Elsa in combination with the closures already announced at Whitehorse Copper and Cyprus Anvil constitute a disaster to the Yukon economy as well as to the mining personnel themselves and their immediate communities. It will be no surprise, therefore, that the Government of Yukon has found it necessary to undertake a program of retrenchment in order to bring our spending plans in line with the financial resources available”.

On August 6, 1982 Pearson announced that the Yukon’s Public Service Union had agreed to the government’s proposal, cutting civil servant’s working hours by 10% as a cost-cutting measure. This cut would be in effect until March 31,‘83 and could save the government $2 million.

Pearson’s “9 day fortnight” program was clever; the pay increase was cancelled out by the reduction in hours worked. YG’s Main Administration building and other administrative offices shut down every second Friday. Thus, most employees’ pay cheques remained unchanged while they enjoyed a long weekend every other week. The union faced little choice; cut backs or lay offs, the government needed to cut costs.

Our thanks to the Yukon Archives for Whitehorse Star records and to past President Dave Hobbis for his recollections of this interesting period in YEU’s history.

Together for Safety

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May 29th 2015 marked the start of a new relationship between women in Whitehorse and the RCMP.  Since 2013, Whitehorse women’s groups and the RCMP have collaborated to create an RCMP Safety Protocol entitled Together for Safety, with the shared goal of improving response services to women in Whitehorse.

In response to a recommendation in the Police Commission report, Yukon women’s advocacy groups formed a coalition to help create the TFS Protocol. Signatories include Les Essentielles, Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle, Yukon Status of Women Council, the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre, the PSAC Regional Women’s Committee and the PSAC Yukon Aboriginal People’s Committee. The work and collaboration took place over a year, ensuring the many voices were reflected in the finished product.

PSAC member Linda Moen was invited to represent both the Regional Women’s Committee & the Yukon Aboriginal People’s Committee on the newly formed coalition. Linda is a Federal employee, a mother and an aboriginal woman who lives in her First Nation community. Honoured and a bit apprehensive, Linda decided she had the support she needed from the committees to take on the task. She quickly learned that she had much to offer the discussion and learned a lot from the process.

When the Together for Safety Protocol was signed on May 29th  2015, Linda signed on behalf of both committees. As the Protocol takes effect, Linda hopes the spirit of the agreement informs interactions between the women of Whitehorse and the RCMP.

YEU wants to thank Linda Moen, the PSAC Regional Women’s Committee and the Yukon Aboriginal Peoples’ Committee for taking on this role in our community. It’s good to know this is the work our Union is doing, through the dedication and commitment of the committees and their members.