Government of Yukon Workers: Bargaining Input is now open.

bargaining team mugIf you work for the Government of Yukon, your contract is due to be renegotiated. YOU can help craft your next agreement.

  • YOU help determine the priorities of your bargaining team.
  • YOU choose your Bargaining Team!

GET INVOLVED!

Is there something that has driven you crazy about your collective agreement?

Is there a clause in the contract you feel is flawed, lacking clarity or even missing entirely? Submit it!

Submit a Bargaining Input form that clearly spells out the changes you want to see in the next agreement. If it’s something you and your co-workers have talked about, make sure to have them add their signatures to your submission. The more members sign a proposal the greater the chance it will make it to the bargaining table.

YEU members employed by the Government of Yukon can expect a special issue newsletter in their mailbox at the start of May. This mailing will explain all the steps of the negotiation process including selection of your pre-bargaining committee and the Main Table Bargaining Team. All forms will be included in the special mailing.

Get involved in the Bargaining process… stay involved from the bargaining input stage right through contract ratification. The best thing about being in a union is that your working conditions come about through your own participation.

Download the Bargaining Input Form here (Download & print pdf)

Nominate someone to the Bargaining Input Committee here (Download & print pdf)

Stay connected through the blog (SUBSCRIBE TODAY) or visit us at our website!

Yukon Employees’ Union: Yukon, Born & Raised

In November of 1965, Yu1966-1kon’s civil servants were among the few remaining Canadian government employees lacking any form of unionized association. On a Sunday afternoon in late 1965, this union was founded by a dedicated few who sought fair equity and representation for themselves at a time when their government had not even recognized a union for its federal employees. November 21, 1965 saw the formation of the Yukon Territorial Public Service Association. At the Whitehorse Canadian Legion Hall, the Yukon Territorial Public Service Association (YTPSA) was founded.

YTPSA founding members included first President Bob Smith, Directors Jean Besier and Harry Thompson and Ione Christianson. Though initially intended to represent workers in Whitehorse, it was Ms. Christianson who advised that the membership expand to include the rural areas as well. The constitution adopted at the first meeting stated the union’s purpose was “to unite all employees of the Government of the Yukon Territory for the promotion of their several interests and to promote their welfare and the betterment of their economic and cultural interests.” By promoting “a spirit of amity, unity, loyalty and efficiency in the Public Service” and through affiliation as a component of the Civil Service Federation of Canada (CSFC) the group sought the right to negotiate Collective Agreements for their members.

The first order of business for the new union was a pay raise. Working conditions and very low rates of pay at the time contributed to a powerful sense of inequality with both provincial Government employees and Federal workers. President Bob Smith approached Yukon Commissioner G.R. Cameron requesting an immediate 10% raise in pay. The union’s strong argument defending the request was forwarded to Arthur Laing, then Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. In April of 1996, thanks to the determination of the group and the “enlightened thinking” of Commissioner Cameron, the YTPSA and its members achieved their wage increase request.News-Photo-First-Yukon-Agreement-Signing1971

This was accomplished without the legal right to bargain collectively on behalf of the growing YTPSA membership. By early 1967, records show that the YTPSA was pressing the Commissioner to introduce Collective Bargaining Legislation. This was denied. At the time, the signed membership constituted less than the required 50% plus one of the eligible 380 employees. The YTPSA was by now a fully accredited Local of the newly formed Public Service Alliance of Canada (previously the CSFC) and it was this association that helped drive up membership numbers.

In 1971, the YTPSA celebrated their first Collective Agreement. The event was marked by the visits of PSAC President Claude Edwards and the PSAC Executive Vice-President J. K. Wylie.

Rates of pay in the 1973 Collective Agreement show that a Key Punch Operator’s wage range was from $6571 to $7607 per year, while a Lottery and Games of Chance Manager could expect a top salary of 16,524. Vacation leave (an important bargaining win) was offered in the sum of 3 weeks leave for the first 5 years of employment, 4 weeks of vacation from the sixth year and 5 weeks for those employees with 15 or more years of service.

There was no dental plan at the time though the employer was seeking a plan provider. Medicare costs were increased in the 1973 CA from a 50/50 premium split to a 60% payment from the employer. Maternity leave was in force; a woman who was pregnant was expected to take maternity leave starting 11 weeks before her due date and ending no later than 16 weeks after delivery. This was leave without pay, and was subject to employer approval. At any time however, “notwithstanding the above, the Employer may direct a female employee who is pregnant to proceed on maternity leave at any time where, in its opinion, the interest of the Employer so requires”. Male employees were offered a day of paid specialteamster-raid-cropsSHORT leave at the discretion of the Employer on the occasion of the birth of his son or daughter. We’ve come a long way!

The YTPSA faced many challenges during its first decades. A determined first raid effort by the Teamsters saw the resignation of the entire Executive in 1975, and was followed by another attempt several years later. There were struggles with the PSAC and internal conflicts amongst elected officials of the YTPSA. All the growing pains however happened alongside the continued strengthening of the Union. As the years passed, new Bargaining Units were certified and the membership grew to exceed 5000 members and more than 20 different employers.

We’ll be telling more of the history of YEU over the coming months; we hope you’ll check back. If you were part of the story please contact us toUnion-Boss-Survives-1985 share what you remember. There are many gaps in our records of those early years.

YEU, YGEU, YTPSA has a proud history. We were born in the Yukon, raised in the Yukon. Our story is not one of a group of workers “organized” by any big outside force. We did this for ourselves, by ourselves. YEU developed largely independent of the guidance and structures that were available to other unions.   Our leaders were hardworking and flawed without a doubt, but they pressed on through mistakes as they learned how to achieve their collective goals. We are grateful for their solidarity.

Call your Union…it’s really OKAY!

call your unionWe often hear fear in peoples’ voices when they phone the union hall for the first time. There’s a hushed voice at the other end of the line, reluctant to make the call, afraid of negative repercussions. We ask for a name and there’s a pause… a beat while the caller considers whether it’s safe to give their real name. We are accustomed to getting just a first name.

When we ask for details about the problem, we have to be patient. Sometimes the story comes out in tiny, vague pieces. Afraid of giving too much away, details are disguised and identities are masked. While we may get to the real story and names eventually, it requires careful listening and a lot of reassurance. There is fear that by calling your union you have set in motion something you can’t control.

There are a few things you need to know.

  • You are allowed to talk to your union!
  • Your information is confidential.
  • We will never, not ever, contact your employer without your express permission.
  • If you have a meeting with a Shop Steward, they are bound by the same rules of confidentiality that we are here at the Union Hall. They are trained, knowledgeable and discreet.
  • Sometimes the problem you are experiencing at work is not grievable; that’s a fact. Your union rep will help determine whether or not there are grounds for a grievance. If there are, the decision to proceed is yours.
  • If, after discussion with your union rep you choose to file a grievance, the process will be explained to you fully before any action is taken. You need to be comfortable with the way things progress. No grievance will be filed on your behalf without your consent & participation.
  • If you choose NOT to file a grievance or proceed with any action, that’s okay too. Sometimes all you need is someone objective to help you see things more clearly.
  • If you are called to a discipline meeting with your employer, you have a right to union representation. Call us as soon as you are told of a meeting and we will make sure you don’t go into it alone.

Your Collective Agreement is a big document. It may seem daunting but it’s worth a read. Your workplace probably has a Shop Steward or union representative who can take some time to go through things with you if you’re not sure. If you don’t know who to call, then please call us. We’re here to help. If you are a YEU member in the Yukon, you can call us at (867) 667-2331 or visit yeu.ca to find our toll free number. And of course you can always email contact@yeu.ca.

YEU Celebrates 50 years; 1965-2015

News-Photo-First-Yukon-Agreement-Signing1971“It is time for an imaginative, courageous, and positive approach to salaries, [and] working conditions.”

Bob Smith, YTPSA President 1965

On a Sunday afternoon in late 1965, a group of Yukon civil servants gathered together in the Whitehorse Legion Hall. Having long felt they were not offered the same treatment as their federal colleagues, the Yukon workers wanted change. They met to adopt the constitution of an association uniting the collective interest of all Yukon Territorial Government employees.

Living standards were dropping as salaries failed to keep pace with the rising costs of living in the North. Salaries fell victim to inflation with a difference of over 40% in food costs between Whitehorse and Edmonton. The results, especially in communities outside of Whitehorse, were evident. Public Service morale in Yukon was down and staff turnover was constant. Looking to improve the lives of all YTG employees and their families, the Yukon Territorial Public Service Association was founded.

In the early months of the YTPSA,  documents note the Union’s immediate goal was to achieve a pay increase of 10%. Although lacking collective bargaining rights, they sought through their negotiations to provide a higher standard of living for their members. In a letter addressed to then Commissioner G.R. Cameron, YTPSA President Bob Smith wrote that it was time “for an imaginative, courageous, and positive approach to salaries, [and] working conditions.” By April, 1966, they were successful in achieving their wage recommendation.

This is the first in a series of articles sharing the history of the Yukon Employees’ Union, now celebrating 50 years. Follow http://www.theunionbillboard.com to receive regular updates.

Shop Steward Round Table Reboot!

YEU toolboxYou raised your hand, you were elected…. now what? At YEU, our Shop Stewards & Local Executive members are very important. In fact, without a strong and well educated volunteer base we would have a hard time keeping up with our large and diverse membership.

Our staff and Executive are working hard to ensure we offer the right training modules to our volunteers and workplace advocates. In order for you to feel confident that you are representing the membership and union well, you need a strong basis in facts, a thorough understanding of your Collective Agreement and the mentorship of experienced union staff.

With those needs in mind, we are planning a half day brainstorm session for all our Stewards and elected workplace advocates. No matter whether you are the sole employee rep in a workplace of 6 or a seasoned Steward with 300 employees in your department – we need you. All stewards from all employers and workplaces are encouraged to attend this Shop Steward Round Table session.

SAVE the DATE! 
Thursday January 22, 2014
9:00 am ‘til Noon OR 2:00 pm ‘til 5:00 pm.

Both Round Table sessions are the same, so plan to attend only one. You will be required to bring in your approved leave form in order to attend. Please call Josh at 667-2331 or complete the form below to pre-register for either the morning or afternoon session.

We want to hear what you have to say; bring us your concerns and your Steward questions. Let us know what stands between you and full engagement as an employee rep. Our goal is to build up our Steward network, ensuring you get the training and support you need!

Why are YOU Union?

“I’m Union Because” is a campaign we launched at this weekend’s YEU Triennial Convention. Delegates shared a few thoughts on what motivates them to keep their union alive, what being Union means to them. We hope you enjoy the pictures & take a moment to think about what makes YOU Union. Want to add your voice?  Print off the pdf, post it on your Union Billboard at work. It’s a conversation we need to have with our co-workers, our kids, our friends and neighbours. There’s a lot of talk out there about what Unions are, what they do… if we don’t tell our own story, we give away all our power. Tell your story!

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Download the pdf, print it off and post it!

No FAIR! The unfortunate race to the bottom for worker rights.

school-lunch

Imagine a school lunch room – hungry kids eagerly opening lunch boxes and bags, ready to dig in. Over at a corner table, a group of kids sit with meager lunches; some have nothing to eat at all. When you consider this image it’s not hard to imagine how you’d feel. Most of us would want to do something quickly for the kids without enough to eat.

Now picture this; the same lunch room, the same kids with healthy lunches and the same kids with little or nothing to eat. Imagine the lunch room monitor throwing away the nutritious lunches because others don’t have as much, saying it’s just not fair that some should eat when others are hungry.  If some have to suffer on next to nothing then everyone should suffer.

The argument that no-one should have more than the least fortunate of us is an increasingly common, divisive and destructive argument.

In this story, unionized workers are the kids with the healthy lunches. The more you hear from the right wing media the more you’ll believe that the economic difficulties faced by western society are all because of greedy union workers. The facts are that corporations have rights similar to those of individuals, that pay levels for CEO’s have ballooned & ballooned again over the last two decades and that powerful corporate lobbies influence and control our governments. We hear again and again how unions are too big, too strong, too powerful – how unions have destroyed the economy, ensuring that jobs are moved offshore, taking with them all hope for advancement and prosperity of the middle class.

The reality is that prosperity and the middle class came to be in North America because of unions. Collective bargaining secured the things we take for granted.  Those advantages will disappear completely with the destruction of unions and the labour movement.

Whatever your opinion of unions it would be difficult to imagine any corporate agenda that would choose to spend any more on worker rights and benefits than absolutely necessary. If unions would simply step out of the way and stop demanding health & safety provisions, liveable wage certainty & health care benefits, more profit could be earned for shareholders and CEO salaries could be even higher. Why would any employer choose to give paid vacation leave if it didn’t have to? Why ensure new mothers can take time off to care for new babies? Removing hard won benefits and lowering salaries in unionized sectors will only encourage private sector and non-unionized employers to continue the downward trend; offering ever lower wages, fewer benefits, part-time jobs and no pensions.

Unions protect workers. Unions create higher standards for all workers, whether they are in a union or not.

In a just society, we try to make sure everyone has what they need; we try to raise people up with dignity. The lunch room analogy is an illustration of the race to the bottom we see so much of these days – the argument that because some don’t have much, nobody should have anything. It’s a mean spirited analogy; a mean spirited belief. It goes against the core values of most of us in this country. When we stop to think about it,  is blaming unionized workers and trying to strip them of their rights any different than throwing out a lunch? Let’s try instead to make sure that everyone has access to a living wage, to health care, to dignity and security. It’s not a free lunch; it’s fair.

Taking Union leave? Make sure you get paid!

union leave

Union work takes time; Shop Stewards, Committee members and elected Local Executive members know it! If you’re doing sanctioned union work, your CA allows for you to do so without losing pay. You MUST, however, cite the correct article from your agreement if you don’t want to end up in a sticky situation. In some contracts, the language requires that YEU reimburse you for your loss of salary but in most workplaces we reimburse your employer for your time.

YEU Finance Officer Tammy Olsen spends hours trying to reconcile our records with the invoices your employers send us for your time. If you do NOT cite the correct article, your loss of salary will not be reimbursed to your employer; you will have that time taken off your pay. If you attend training, Convention, a national or regional event; check your Collective Agreement and get it right!

Here are the articles for union members in some of our larger bargaining units; if yours is not listed here, please read your CA or go to http://www.yeu.ca to check the language in your contract.
YG: Article 11.13- ensures you stay on payroll. You must also cite the specific sub-article that covers the reason for your leave. These include training, conventions, bargaining, representation etc. (11.01-11.15 depending on the situation).

COW: Article 18 keeps you on payroll but you must also cite the sub article (18.07 for paid leave along with sub .04, .05 or .06 as appropriate.
Yukon College: Article 19 – Cite 19.10 to stay on payroll and the sub-article (19.01 – 19.08 as appropriate).

Remember: be specific and make sure you provide YEU with a copy of your signed leave form every time!

If you would like to review the language in your collective agreement, visit YEU’s website and read up.