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.
Congratulations to YEU activist and Executive member Jack Bourassa, elected Sunday as the PSAC North’s new Regional Executive Vice-President of the North. Jack will spend the next three years working in all three Northern Territories, representing workers from all three components.
Jack moves into his new role with the same commitment he brought to his union work with YEU. We look forward to working with our new REVP! Alternate REVP is sister Marie Buchanan, delegate from UNW in Yellowknife.
Regional Director for Yukon Debbie Paquette & Jack Bourassa
Jack with his wife Alysa and family.