Happy Labour Day from YEU

 

Happy 124th Labour day, Canada!  From its humble beginnings in 1872, it was over 20 years before a National Holiday honoring workers was declared in 1894.  Canadian workers paid dearly with blood, sweat, tears and sometimes their lives to achieve a 58 hour work week – the first battle won by the early, newly organized labour activists.

As organized labour we’ve come a long way in 124 years – a relatively short period of time. With globalization and increasing pressures from the right, it’s more important than ever that we don’t forget the sacrifices made by a few over a hundred years ago. Let’s take some time this Monday to reflect on where we came from and how we can continue to make Canada a better place for all workers.

The Yukon is a pretty well-organized place, at least when compared to the rest of Canada. With almost 33% of our workers unionized, we boast the highest union density per capita and that density has been maintained for over 50 years. In many ways, Yukon is a big union town. This Labour Day, we want to thank everyone who works so hard to keep this territory and this country strong.

This historical photo shows Dawson’s Labour Day Parade in 1906. In the middle of the last century, Yukon’s workers began organizing in earnest. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 2499 was chartered in 1947, while the Yukon Teacher’s Association formed in 1955. The UA, or United Association of Allied Workers representing plumbers, pipe fitters and welders established a Yukon presence in 1958 and the Yukon Territorial Public Service Association (YTPSA) formed in 1965. The YTPSA was the first incarnation of what is now the Yukon Employees’ Union, or YEU/PSAC.

This year, YEU and PSAC are bargaining on behalf of members working for Yukon employers large and small. We are up against some serious challenges to the rights we have fought for over the years. Several of our bargaining units have been forced to prove their solidarity through strike votes and strike action. In these anti-union times, it’s not easy to hold on to what we have. We can’t rest on our laurels or believe that everything we have all worked so hard for is secure.

Employers have their own agendas, and it’s up to all of us to keep the pressure on, and protect the rights of Yukons’ workers, unionized or not.

We hope you’ll join us as we celebrate with our 24th annual Free Labour Day Barbeque in Shipyards Park. Each year our activists pull off one of the largest – probably THE largest free public meal in the territory, complete with fun kids’ activities and coffee provided by Midnight Sun Coffee.  We’ll also be collecting your donations for the Whitehorse Food Bank, building our 2nd Annual Mountain of Mac & Cheese! Hope to see you there!

In solidarity,

Steve Geick,

President, Yukon Employees’ Union

Guatemala for YEU members; Education in Action

Education In Action Application 2019   We invite you to consider applying for a unique opportunity to work with, and learn from communities and farmers of the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA) in Guatemala.  The CCDA is a grassroots cooperative defending the economic, social and cultural rights of the Mayan people since 1982, struggling for equitable land distribution, carrying out sustainable agricultural development and encouraging the economic empowerment of women.

Since 2007, members from many different PSAC components have participated in this valuable project, including the Yukon Employees’ Union. YEU President Steve Geick joined a 2014 contingent, and he encourages our members to give thought to participating. This experience was life-changing, he says. You can read about Steve’s CCDA journey here, and if you think it might be for you, please click the link below to complete the application.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the program and the organization.

Young workers may be eligible for one of four sponsorships provided by the Public Service Alliance of Canada. If you are a young worker (18–35 years) and are interested in being part of a delegation on an Education project, please complete the application below.

 

YEU MEMBER APPLICATION TO EDUCATION IN ACTION, GUATEMALA 2019

YOUNG WORKER APPLICATION FOR SUBSIDY 2019

A Message from Chris Aylward, PSAC National President

I looked forward to my visit to the Yukon this summer because it gave me another opportunity to meet with members in Whitehorse, Pelly Crossing, Stewart, Carmacks and Dawson. It was great to chat with workers from Wildland Fire Management and to hear the concerns of volunteer community EMS workers. I always learn a lot when I can visit worksites and talk to members on the job.

I attended the KVA Local Y018 AGM – what an active and engaged local! Every position on their Executive went to an election, with three or four nominees named on each ballot. That’s impressive, and encouraging.

Speaking with Parks Canada members at the Dawson and Whitehorse community barbecues was a highlight of my trip, and an important reason I came north this summer. The PSAC is keeping up the pressure on our federal government to pay its workers correctly – every time. We have secured employer compensation for out-of-pocket expenses for things like banking fees or interest charges due to late or missed payments, as well as support for people on disability, maternity, and parental leave.

It’s important for members affected by Phoenix to know what we are doing to support them, and to hold the government to account. Critical to many affected federal workers is the emergency salary advance; an advance is to be made available within 24-48 hours of request by an underpaid worker. Those requests must be made through the employer, but please notify the PSAC to inform us of pay issues experienced by any federal employee in the territory. Please contact me directly at aylwardc@psac-afpc.com, or contact the PSAC’s National Executive Vice President Magalie Picard at picardm@psac-afpc.com

What is happening in Yukon’s Department of Health & Social Services is appalling. This is a department responsible for the well-being and care of children and youth! Their decision to fire whistle-blowers after promising safety illustrates the fact that they cannot be trusted. The dishonesty they displayed shutting down the ISSY office under completely false pretenses can’t be ignored. PSAC and YEU demand that any reports or recommendations arising from the current third party investigation be made public.

YEU has been calling attention to the lack of staffing and support for workers and youth in residential care settings for years, but the department didn’t take action until the press got involved. Now, the issue has gained national attention and the department’s actions are being closely watched around the county. We will continue to monitor the situation alongside Brother Geick and YEU and if needed, we will request federal intervention. If the results of the investigations are not made public, no-one will have any confidence in anything that department says.

Finally, I sincerely hope you will get involved in your union. Be knowledgeable about the issues your co-workers face. I got involved almost 30 years ago when I worked as a member of the Union of Taxation Employees, and I’ve never regretted that decision. It’s one thing to complain, but unless you are willing to be part of the solution, you’re not helping anyone. It’s workers like you who make up the YEU and the PSAC – workers like you who make a difference.

In solidarity,

Chris Aylward, National President
Public Service Alliance of Canada

Your Input, Your Contract

Our contract with the Government of Yukon expires December 31, 2018. We are already gearing up for a strong start to the bargaining process, but we need you. Bargaining proposals come from the members. Nominations for the Bargaining Input Committee come from the members & the Bargaining Teams are elected by the members.

We Need Your Bargaining Proposals by June 15

Do you have an idea to improve working conditions in your workplace? Is there something in our contract that just needs fixing?

Please print the Bargaining Input form linked below, complete it with supporting signatures and submit it to your Local President, to the Yukon Employees’ Union, or to the PSAC Regional Office before the Bargaining Input Deadline of June 15th. Not sure how?

Call YEU at (867) 667-2331 or toll-free at 1-888-YEU-2331 
OR call the PSAC North office at Tel: (867) 668-8593
toll-free: 1-888-998-8229
OR 
Email contact@yeu.ca or dalleys@psac-afpc.com 

We hope to have a new contract ratified by the time our current contract expires December 31, 2018 but we need your help to make that happen. Please, get involved now and stay informed throughout the important process of bargaining. 

YG 2018 Bargaining Input Form (complete, print & sign)

YG Bargaining Input Committee Nomination Form (complete, print & sign)

READ THE CURRENT COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT. 
Make note of any articles you think need to be updated, changed, or improved and complete the Bargaining Input form linked above.

Deadline to submit – June 15.

 

YEU @ #PSAC2018 – DAY 2

Monday April 30 was a very important day at the 18th Triennial Convention of the PSAC. Revered Senator Murray Sinclair, past chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was keynote speaker. He spoke of painful issues with great dignity and gentle humour, sharing his insights into the reality of life for many indigenous people. Generations of residential schools, racists policies and systemic discrimination worked to eradicate indigenous culture and any sense of cultural identity or pride. The damage done by over 100 years of this genocide impacts all of us even now, and was spoken to very powerfully by indigenous delegates who bravely shared their stories.

A multi-media performance entitled No More Stolen Sisters employed video, music and dance to honour the Murdered and Missing Indigenous wives, daughters, mothers and sisters lost forever.

 

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.

 

YEU is Hiring: Executive Director

Executive Director
Full-time, indeterminate (37.5 hours/week)
Salary $129,000-$152,000

Yukon Employees Union is seeking a visionary, dynamic, and driven leader to serve as our next Executive Director. The Executive Director is the sole managing director of the Yukon Employees’ Union and is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of all aspects of the operation.

Reporting to the President, the Executive Director has four key areas of accountability:

1. Labour relations services to union members;
2. Management of YEU budget and expenditures;
3. Planning, development and implementation of YEU’s strategic goals;
4. All aspects of Human Resource Management for YEU staff.

A competitive candidate will have extensive knowledge and experience in the areas of management, finance, administrative law, labour relations and conflict resolution. The level of knowledge and skill required is typically achieved through post-secondary education in business, law, labour relations, or human resources, and ten or more years’ experience in a similar leadership position. The Executive Director should have experience with collective bargaining/grievance processes and should have in-depth knowledge of the benefits and challenges associated with unionized working environments.

YEU’s Executive Director must be ethical, strategic, resilient and collaborative in order to meet the needs of nearly 5,000 members and the staff.

This challenging position is rewarded with a competitive salary, excellent pension, medical and dental plans, training opportunities and other benefits.

Applications and inquiries should be sent by e-mail with the subject line Executive  Director 2018 to:

Laura Hureau, Executive Director
lhureau@yeu.ca

Application Deadline: December 22, 2017

The Boss Wants your Medical Records? Call the Union …Quick!

your-medical-history

All of us at YEU are concerned for the privacy of YG employees and the protection of their personal & private medical history.

Sometimes workers must provide their employer with medical information to access a workplace accommodation or receive benefits. The right to privacy is quasi-constitutional, meaning it can’t be set aside or trumped by other policies or rules, so any exceptions to that right must serve a legitimate purpose. Any information shared has to be handled with extreme caution. An employee’s medical condition must have a genuine impact on their work, affecting attendance or creating performance issues. Without a significant impact, the employer does not have a right to medical information- period.

Employees seeking a medical accommodation are obliged to provide some information to the employer; we don’t dispute that. The information must be limited to prognosis and limitations or restrictions that would affect your ability to perform your job. Often though, there is uncertainty about what the employer is entitled to, and how they should be using and protecting this information. Your diagnosis is your business, not your employer’s. Requests for information or history beyond what is genuinely needed are invasive;  employees can never be sure who will see their private information once it has been provided.

We know of many instances where the Yukon government has collected extensive medical information on employees, far beyond what is required to access benefits or develop an accommodation plan. In several cases, information about other family members has been collected and shared – clearly without their knowledge or consent. Over time, these reports have been copied, e-mailed and viewed by many people in various government departments as well as other service providers.

This should never be allowed to happen; it can be very distressing for the workers involved, and is a significant concern for the union. Many employees do not ask for the union’s help at the beginning of the accommodation process, and end up providing a lot of unnecessary and deeply personal information to their employer.

An employee should share medical information only when absolutely necessary, and only the information absolutely required to reach an accommodation. Any general requests for medical records should be refused. The employee should also refuse to authorize any employer representative to speak with their doctor directly. A reasonable alternative is to have the employer write their questions out so that the employee can discuss it with their doctor and consent to specific disclosure.

YEU has asked the Privacy Commissioner to examine Government of Yukon’s processes around collecting, using, sharing and retaining medical information related to the disability management and accommodation process. In the meantime, we can help employees navigate the inquiry and accommodation processes and support employees in protecting their privacy.

Employees should contact YEU before agreeing to share any medical information. Call 667-2331

YG’s New Voluntary Severance Provision: What you NEED to know

yg severance provision graphic*New language has been added to the Collective Agreement between YEU/PSAC and the Government of Yukon. Article 19 Severance provides for voluntary early pay-out of severance pay under certain conditions.

It is important to remember this new provision is voluntary only – there is NO requirement to request an early payout of your severance. All other forms of severance such as the provision for layoff remain intact and are unchanged.

Severance is like a deferred long term savings plan. For every year you work you will have one week of pay set aside for when you retire. For employees who plan to work until they retire, the value of severance is 1 week of pay for each year of service, which is like having an additional 1.9% that is set aside annually for you by the employer.

The monetary “value” of severance varies considerably from person to person depending on years of service, your career plan, and the conditions under which you might expect to take severance pay.

Severance is intended to bridge your time between when you retire and when you get your first pension cheque or provide additional pay in the event you are laid off. There are occasions where several months elapse between the date of retirement and receipt of the first pension payment.

How will the new Voluntary Severance Pay-Out article work?

If you voluntarily take an early payout of your severance, the following applies:

  • You can only apply for it when you have at least 5 years of service
  • You can only take it in multiples of 5 year blocks
  • Early payout of severance means you will only be paid 50% of your regular entitlement. Rather than 1 week’s pay for each year worked, you will receive 1 week’s pay for each 2 years of service
  • Severance will be paid out at your current substantive rate of pay
  • There may be additional tax implications

If you voluntarily take an early payout of your severance and you are still employed, there may be additional tax payable. Any additional taxes will be your responsibility and will vary from person to person depending on your personal financial situation.

Another important factor to consider is you more than likely will be at a higher pay level when you retire. This means severance will be paid out at a higher level when you retire. 

*If you cash out early, you will continue to accrue severance, but like a savings account, once you withdraw severance, it is gone. It can’t be replaced or replenished over time.

*We recommend you do not access this provision unless you absolutely have to.


*For reference, the contract language is below
19.10 Severance Voluntary Pay-Out

A regular employee with at least five (5) years of continuous service may elect to have all or a portion of their accrued severance paid out prior to resignation or retirement, subject to the following conditions:

a)    Pay-out must be requested in five-year increments  (e.g. 5 years, 10 years, etc.)
b)    An employee may request a voluntary severance pay-out each time the employee accrues another five year increment of severance.
c)    Request for pay-out must be made by September 30 each year.
d)    Voluntary severance will be paid on the pay day falling immediately after November 1.
e)    An eligible employee is entitled to be paid by the employer severance pay equal to the product obtained by multiplying the employee’s weekly rate of pay by 1/2 by the number of full-time equivalent completed continuous years of service requested for pay-out to a maximum of 28 weeks.
f)    The number of years of voluntary severance paid out will be subtracted from remaining accrued balance of severance for the purposes of Article 19.
g)    An employee’s future earning and accrual of severance shall remain unaffected.

The Letter of Expectation: What Does it Mean?

Rob-Jones-Y010-President-2016

The fact finding meeting is over; you may never hear about the issue again, or the employer notifies you that they have come to a conclusion and you’re called for a follow up meeting.

During the meeting your supervisor reads out loud and presents a letter of expectation (LOE);  welcome to the performance management stream and the right of the employer to reaffirm the roles, responsibilities and accountability of your position within public service in Yukon.

Firstly, a letter of expectation is not discipline.  While it may feel like discipline (and trust me I know this feeling, having been through this process), it is not intended to be, nor is it a disciplinary action. 

A properly formatted letter of expectation should clearly outline the issues the employer has identified that need to be rectified, the changes they would like to see, the timeline for this change and the support and resources for assisting with process.

What happens after I receive this letter?

This is a shared responsibility; you as a public servant have been advised of your employment expectations and you should seek to meet the mark. It will feel like there is extra scrutiny on you and this is natural and actually accurate, but not in the “I’m gonna get you” way. 

After an LOE is delivered the employer is watching you, not to note your failure but to ensure your success.  It is incumbent on the employer to assist you in meeting the requirements of your position and the expectations that have been outlined. 

YTG (the employer) needs to provide access to support and resources to ensure you are successful.  Bear in mind  you are a big part of this success and it is incumbent on you to meet the requirements of your job contract with YTG. As the cliché goes it takes two to tango and for the most part you are the lead in the dance.

 How long does the LOE stay in my file?

As letters of expectation are not discipline they are not part of your file.  When it comes to your “file” you only have one and this is held at the Public Service Commission (you can make an appointment to see your file with PSC if you would like to review your public service employment file).  

Your LOE will be held by your supervisor and will not be in your “file” but will be kept for reference for the timeline provided in the letter.  An LOE will be deemed complete at your next PPP (Personal Performance Plan) provided the issues have been resolved and have not continued.  Now, if the behavior in the letter continues, this can open up the disciplinary stream (which I will cover in another post).  But we all know that this won’t be an issue……..right?

 A few other details….

 Letters of expectation do not always come from fact finding meetings. Employment behaviors can be noted and dealt with outside of fact finding meetings and delivered at the discretion of the employer.

  • Union representation is not required at the presentation of an LOE as they are not disciplinary, however, it is recommended by YTG that if it will be of benefit to the employee YEU representation can be in attendance.
  • As always, if there are questions or concerns call the YEU office at 667 2331 or call me directly at 334 4331, remembering there is a timeline for issues of approximately 20 days, so call early and get the answers.

 Yours in solidarity,

Rob Jones

rob jones

President, YEU Local Y010