In Support of A Living Wage

 

Yukoners who rely on minimum wage earn $11.51 per hour. And that’s before any tax comes off the top. Yukon workers deserve better than minimum wage – they need a living wage. Most minimum wage discussions tend to go down the path of cost, instead of decency. Let’s take a quick look at the cost side so we can better understand the argument for decency.

Let’s envision a worker putting in 60 hours a week at two different minimum wage employers (with no overtime). At the current minimum wage, and after taxes, their take home is just under $33,000 a year. Let that sink in for a moment.

Given the recent rent survey completed by Yukon Bureau of Statistics, let’s assume our worker is single and pays the average rent for all types of rental units, $1,184.00 per month. Over a year, that total comes to $14,208.00. Nearly half of our worker’s income is gone in rent.

I could go on, but I imagine folks can predict where this math leads. Come year-end, a worker with one full-time and one half-time job has been able to little more than meet their survival costs.

The decent alternative to the minimum wage is a LIVING WAGE.

In Yukon, a living wage is calculated as $18.26 per hour – a substantial jump from the $11.51/hr minimum wage. This figure takes into account the true cost of living in the north, factoring in the high rents, higher cost of living and realities of the northern economy.

The minimum wage was introduced in 1975 to prevent the exploitation of women and youth in the workplace. Over time and in practice, minimum wage has served to do the opposite. Most minimum wage positions are now occupied by adults, especially people of colour and new Canadians. Minimum wage earners often support families, working two or more jobs to do so.

The living wage is designed to lift individuals and families out of poverty and into a place of greater economic security.

Times have changed since 1975. Business interests have formed powerful lobby groups which are often given the same or greater rights as people. What has been lost along the way is the understanding that businesses exist to meet the needs of the people. If people can’t afford the costs of goods or services, then businesses will starve and die.

Making decisions on how much people should earn based on the cost to business, is indecent.

Providing workers with a decent income will result in greater financial freedom, and increased spending on goods and services. People who aren’t on the knife’s edge of poverty have a much better quality of life, lowering costs for our health care system.

The benefits to our communities would be many, and the businesses paying higher wages would benefit from a stronger economy – the positive effects of increased wages have consistently proven to outweigh the costs. It’s time for Yukon government to make the decent choice, and support low-wage earning Yukoners.

Justin Lemphers, President
Yukon Federation of Labour

Read the letter to Yukon Premier Sandy Silver sent by Northern Labour leaders.

Download a copy of the postcard petition in support of the #LIvingWageNorth campaign

Visit #LivingWageNorth web page

YEU Delegation Prepares to Attend 2018 PSAC National Convention

We are only a few days away from the National Convention of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. As usual, the Yukon Employees’ Union will send a delegation of activists to Convention to represent us at the national level. Our delegates hail from six Locals, and reflect the diversity of our union.

Members of our Executive have played key roles on several Convention committees, meeting over the past several months to discuss resolutions, finances and more. Their contributions will continue once we reach the Convention floor in Toronto.

Senator Murray Sinclair, Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be the Keynote Speaker on Monday April 30th, a speech certain to be moving and memorable. In fact, the week’s agenda is packed with resolutions, plenary and committee sessions, regional caucuses, after hours educational opportunities and speakers.

YEU will provide daily Convention updates which we hope you’ll follow. Look for Live Facebook video feeds and regular posts from the floor. Make sure to like the YEU’s Facebook page, keep up to date at the PSAC’s Facebook page and follow the twitter feeds of both the Yukon Employees’ Union and the Public Service Alliance of Canada. If you want to keep it simple, just follow #PSAC2018 on Twitter and you’ll see it all.

PSAC National President Robyn Benson is retiring, and a number of activists have announced their candidature. The field of candidates is diverse and exciting, with a representative cross section of Canadians offering their skills and experience to lead this dynamic organization through the coming years.

Stay tuned – follow the hashtags and watch for our regular updates. We want to be sure our members see the big picture – your representatives working for you at the PSAC 2018 National Convention.

 

Welcome to the Next Three Years!

Welcome to the next three years! First of all, I would like to thank the delegates who represented the membership at our recent convention for their faith in my leadership. I heard what you said loud and clear. You want strong representation, fair collective agreements, strong communication and more training.

I pledged to do my best to deliver, and I will do just that. The thing is, I can’t do it alone. To accomplish all those tasks I need the help of many.

Over the last two terms, we have built an amazing team at Yukon Employees’ Union. Our staff is second to none, and it’s largely because of their efforts that so much of the work mandated by the 2014 Convention has been accomplished.

Delegates to the 2017 Triennial Convention have elected a strong Executive, too. I am really looking forward to working with this diverse group, and I’m especially pleased that they represent workers from many Locals, not only the largest.

What can you expect from the new Executive? Top of the list of deliverables will be worksite visits. We are also planning Rand drives – inviting dues paying but unsigned members to sign union cards. Rand drives help strengthen locals, since dues are remitted to the Local based on the number of signed members. Being “in good standing” allows members to fully participate in union business and to access all the benefits of union membership. More and more often we are learning that new hires are not being given union cards to sign by their Human Resources contact, and many don’t have any idea what the union is doing on their behalf. We mean to work on that, starting now.

We know that the challenges to our negotiated contracts are growing in step with national trends. All bargaining units can be assured that YEU is standing with your bargaining team every step of the way. If your collective agreement is due to be renegotiated, you’re in good hands. PSAC provides us with expert negotiators, experienced and strong. Fully resourced teams supported by their members have the resolve to stand firm in the face of ever increasing pressure from employers.

We want to make sure we reach you with our communications. Please take a moment to register to receive updates electronically via email. At present, we have email contact for just over half our members. We will never flood your inbox, and you can always unsubscribe at any time. Visit our website, https://yeu.ca and register for email updates on the home page. Seriously, we can’t grow our ability to communicate with you if you don’t subscribe!

If you’ve signed up for our emails help us out. You all know other Union members; encourage them to subscribe to the digital emails too. If each of you can encourage one friend or co-worker to subscribe, just imagine what we could do! Stay tuned for an announcement: we are planning an interesting little contest, soon to be unveiled.

As president, I hope to work with the new Executive to achieve a lot in the next three years, but I need your help. Please, become involved in your local – you don’t have to hold an elected position. Most Locals participate in community events or initiatives, and they have a budget that consists of a portion of your Union dues. Come out to your local meetings and have a say in how your dollars are spent. Is there an event or cause you want your Local to support? Say so, and then help to get others involved too.

Don’t think your collective agreement is fair? Want to see something different? Come to your bargaining input meetings, learn your collective agreements so you can put forth a proposal. Get elected to your bargaining team.

Consistent feedback over the last decade has been clear; members want education. We are about to begin the process of hiring a full-time education officer. We have commitment from both YFL and PSAC to work with us to provide more Local training.

We have always provided training, but we don’t always see a return on that investment. I hope our new training initiatives result in greater long-term involvement, and members using the training!

What kind of involvement? Well, you could become a shop steward or a training facilitator. Maybe you’re an amazing event planner, or you want to submit a column or article to our newsletter. You could write about labour issues, human rights, or areas you see the union needs to focus on. The point is there are many ways to engage with this vibrant organization, we’re saving a spot for you, in fact!

At the end of the day, I can’t make all of this happen without you. Neither can the YEU staff or the Executive. Together, there is no limit to what we can accomplish. You are the Union and without your involvement we will not succeed.

Questions? Not sure how to do it? Not sure why you should? Call me and we’ll chat.

Steve Geick
867-336-2631
sgeick@yeu.ca

YEU Standing Committees; we need YOU!

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Yukon Employees’ Union is governed by Bylaws created and modified by its membership. The elected Executive meets monthly and reports on the work they do as committee chairs, Local liaisons and Directors.  Each Executive member is tasked with convening a committee to oversee certain areas of union business; the committees are made up of members interested in donating a few hours a month to their Union.

Building Committee: To monitor, protect and preserve the YEU Building by advising Executive on technical maintenance issues, renovations, etc. Oversees maintenance contracts and acts as liaison with tenants.  Committee members might be called upon to meet with YEU staff occasionally to discuss building functionality etc.

Education Committee: Oversees the provision of education opportunities to YEU members, enhancing our ability to be effective and responsive to membership needs. Meets on an occasional basis to review education applications and assist in the development of training plans for the Union.

Equity Committee: Chaired by a member of the YEU Executive, this committee invites 2-6 members interested in issues of human rights and equity. The goal of this group is to promote and assist in union action around human rights issues & to appoint the PSAC EO Committee member.

Public Relations Committee: Actively promotes union ideals throughout the Yukon. Considers donation requests, administers hardship fund and is responsible for YEU Educational Bursaries.

All these committees, through their Chair, report regularly to the Executive at monthly meetings.  If you are interested in participating as a member of any of these committees please email contact@yeu.ca

If you’d like to review the Bylaws, you can do so HERE.