YEU Needs Shop Stewards!

YEU needs Shop Stewards…workers like you who are willing to take some training and be available to help colleagues who need an ear, someone to accompany them to a meeting or to help find a solution to a problem at work.

Who can be a Steward?  Any member in good standing of Yukon Employees’ Union can be a Shop Steward in their Local.

What about training? YEU has created a new staff position dedicated to strengthening our Shop Steward team. New training initiatives will be announced over the next year; it’s a very good time to step forward as a Steward!

YEU currently offers monthly Shop Steward Round Table sessions held the 3rd Wednesday morning of each month. These informal presentations offer opportunities to ask questions and learn from others. The PSAC office in Whitehorse also offers regular training on things like union structure, roles, Local Officers training and more. There is online training available through PSAC’s Education program and workshops are offered by affiliate organizations throughout the year.

Rob-Jones-Y010-President-2016Yukon Government has an employer/union co-facilitated course on the Grievance Process – required training for all YG Stewards which can be accessed by all YG members through the Quarterly. No union leave is required for this training. For other training approved during your regular work hours, YEU reimburses your employer for your time; you will not lose pay to attend.

What will I be expected to do? Your co-workers will likely ask you questions about the contract, the union or their own work situations. Stewards are called by our Intake Officer at YEU to accompany members to fact finding meetings with their manager or supervisor. Your role at these meetings is usually as an observer, note taker and provider of moral support. In some cases and with appropriate training, you may be asked to participate more fully in discussions at meetings, but not until you have received coaching and feel prepared to do so.

Is it all volunteer work?  Most contracts have a clause that permits Shop Stewards to do union work while on the job. You submit a leave form citing the appropriate article from your collective agreement for the time you spend researching or representing a member. Your pay will not be disrupted. Representation work done outside your normal work hours is done on a voluntary basis and is not compensated.

My workplace already has a Steward. Stewards represent workers from their Local, not just from their specific workplace so don’t let that stop you. The more well-trained Stewards we have the better.Teresa-Acheson-Miscal-Avano-Nesgaard

If I make a mistake, will someone lose their job? No. You will have a network of support including our well trained & experienced Union Advisors. As a Shop Steward you will have regular conversations with our staff in order to ensure everyone is working in unison for members.

How do I become a Shop Steward? Each Local’s bylaws are worded differently. Some dictate that Stewards are elected at the Local’s AGM, others allow for nominations and elections at any time.

Your Chief Shop Steward or your Local President will guide you through the process. Once we’re advised by your Local that you’re a Shop Steward, you’ll be invited to our office to be sworn in by our President or Vice-President. You’ll get an orientation to our office, staff and procedures and receive your New Steward’s package. Once you’ve met everyone, you’ll be registered for upcoming training.

Will becoming a Steward make me a target for my employer? Shop Stewards who are well trained and level-headed help create workplaces that function smoothly. Employers recognize the benefit of a union liaison in the workplace and are usually very happy to work with them. It’s in everyone’s best interest to solve problems quickly and cleanly. It is very rare that our Stewards find themselves in conflict with their employer simply by virtue of stepping forward as a representative.

Will co-workers expect me to be an instant expert on our contract, labour law and all things union?
Your role is to ensure members have fair representation and that all pertinent information is recorded, provided to the Union Advisor and kept confidential. You’ll need to get to know your contract but we do not expect you to interpret the agreement or be up to date on all labour issues.Talk to a steward

A Steward needs to be compassionate and organized. The Steward’s role is one of problem solver and witness.

At some point in their careers about 50% of workers call their union. It might be a simple question about vacation leave, a scheduling issue or ongoing and persistent harassment from a co-worker or supervisor. To meet our members’ needs when they need support we need your help. Please call your Chief Shop Steward, Local President or the YEU Office today. Visit yeu.ca for contact info.

Remember; join us the 3rd Wednesday of each month for Shop Steward Round Table training sessions; informal workshops geared to skill building. We also invite you to an informal Sandwich Session at lunch the 1st Tuesday of each month. This is a training fee casual get together just to build our network and get to know each other. Call David Anderson at YEU, 667-2331 or email danderson@yeu.ca

Greetings from YEU Local Y010 President Rob Jones

Greetings Brothers & Sisters, Friends & Colleagues.exec-adjusted

It is a great honour for me to be able to write to you as the new President of Local Y010. I am humbled to have been nominated and trusted to continue the great work of our past President and Executive.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sister Tammi Sikorski for all her hard work, sacrifice and dedication to the local. This was greatly appreciated and I clearly have a high standard to meet in keeping up with Tammi’s leadership over these past few years.  Thank you Tammi, we owe you more than we can ever possibly convey.

I would also like to thank Brother Richard Wagner for his work and representation for the Local and YEU as a whole as our Chief Shop Steward.  His knowledge, mentorship and representation were greatly appreciated.

We also say goodbye to Sisters Kat Traplin and Yoshiko Atkins, their voice, experience and dedication to the Local were greatly appreciated and will be missed. Thank you for your service. We wish you all the best in the future.

Please allow me to introduce your Local Y010 Executive:

President: Rob Jones
Chief Shop Steward: Paul Davis
Assistant Chief Shop Steward: Laurie Tamminen
Secretary / Treasurer: Denise Berken
Directors:  Duane Purych, Khusru Zaman, Aziz Mollah
Kathy Donnelly, Amber Harder and Danielle Swift.

We have two Director vacancies. If you are interested in being an active voice in your Local please contact me to discuss the roles and responsibilities of a Local Director.

Over the next year local Y010 has an ambitious agenda including:
Y010 new logo 2014
Signing off all RAND members:
A RAND is a worker in the union environment who has not filled out a union card; presently Y010 has some RANDs.  As a RAND your union dues are being deducted, however you do not have all the benefits of full membership.  We will be working in the community and workplaces to ensue our members are converted from RAND to fully signed members to protect your rights.
Not sure of your membership status? Call YEU at 667 2331. They’ll send you a card if you haven’t signed yet.

Shop Steward training and recruitment:
Local Y010 has approximately 2500 members and is growing. At present we have 10 active Shop Stewards looking after your representation needs.  These dedicated Brothers and Sisters are working to ensure your rights in the workplace.  If you are interested in becoming a Shop Steward or have questions about the roles and responsibilities please contact the YEU office at 667-2331 or contact me and I will be happy to chat.  Moving into 2016 there will be new resources and training initiatives for current and new Stewards.

Social awareness:
We’re working hard to ensure social awareness and initiatives in each community.  We’re always looking for members’ ideas, input and comments on how to move our local forward. Our Local meets at 5:30pm the 2nd Tuesday of each month in the YEU Hall. Please attend a Local meeting; we need you!

Lastly, this is a bargaining year and our collective agreement is on the table.  Your Bargaining Team will be working hard to ensure your rights & make sure you are informed.  Ratification meetings will be announced and held after bargaining; be informed and be engaged. Sign up for regular bargaining update emails at http://www.yeu.ca.

Your local executive is working hard for you, we welcome your comments, concerns, and ideas.  Please contact me at rgjones@northwestel.net or call me at 867 334 4331.

In Solidarity,

rob jones

 

 

Rob Jones, President- Local Y010

Farewell, 2015

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This has been a busy and productive year for the Yukon Employees’ Union. Not without its challenges, 2015 offered YEU opportunities to stand up for Yukon Hospital Corp workers and Yukon’s school bus drivers. We saw new workers choose us as their representatives on the job as we organized new Locals in Haines Junction & Whitehorse. Dawson City employees joined forces with YG workers in the Klondike region to form a brand new super-local and we were BUSY!

We welcomed new staff to YEU, held training events & joined you in celebrating some important milestones. Our 50th Anniversary observance spanned the year and culminated in a great party in November. We bbq’d, skated, watched films together and celebrated Human Rights. Our members came for training, joined PSAC Committees and helped bring about important change in our communities. Thank you, YEU members. You are an inspiring group of individuals and we’re proud to work hard for and with you all year ’round.

From all of us to all of you, Happy New Year. May 2016 bring you health, happiness and peace.

Best Wishes,
Yukon Employees’ Union Staff & Executive

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Leave Request DENIED!

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It’s been a long year – you’ve been crazy busy at work and you can’t wait to take your vacation.  You’ve made plans; maybe even booked a plane ticket and started looking for a house-sitter. It’s time to start counting down the days ‘til you hit the road.

Then you hear the dreaded words … your request for leave has been denied. You’ve got the leave in your bank and there’s no question – you need the break, but your supervisor cites “operational requirements”. Suddenly your plans are washed away like a sandcastle at high tide.

The words Operational Requirements can be a magical get out of jail free card for an employer. This phrase is often used to cover a number of situations including costs of overtime, challenges planning workload etc., but it’s your employer’s responsibility to anticipate and plan for operational needs. They’re required to organize their business so employees can exercise their Collective Agreement rights, including leave entitlements. When considering leave requests, supervisors must consider the employees’ interests and balance them against the Employer’s need to continue doing business without an appreciable loss of production or efficiency.

So what can you do when you’ve been denied, you’re exhausted and desperate to get out of dodge? Can you file a grievance? Should you try and negotiate or should you throw yourself on the floor kicking and bawling ‘til they beg you to take leave?

1. First of all, don’t book the seat sale tickets unless your leave is approved. Telling your supervisor “I’ve already booked tickets”  will not help you.

2. If you work in specialized field, a field that tends to be under-resourced or a workplace that has predictable busy times, plan ahead.  Get your leave request in early; there’s not much your manager or union can do for you when your request comes in last and everyone wants to be gone for the month of July.

3. Watch the calendar; if you’ve submitted your leave request and you don’t hear back within the number of days prescribed in your collective agreement, your leave may have been approved by default. (Most CA’s require your employer to approve deny your leave in writing within a couple of weeks of submission). Follow up with an e-mail confirming that your leave has been approved.

4. Call YEU and speak with the advisory staff. While refusals to grant leave are most often not grievable because of the circumstances or because there is no remedy to be granted, don’t assume that “operational requirements” ends the conversation. The employer has obligations under the Collective Agreement, and we are here to ensure those obligations are met fairly.

Why Are YOU Voting This Year?

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In the 2011 Federal Election, only about 61% of Canadians went to the polls. Stephen Harper & his Conservatives were able to claim a majority victory and form Government with only 41% of the vote, which translates to about 25% of the population of Canada. That’s not a real majority in any sense of the word. If an election is decided by those who choose to show up, it’s equally true that the outcome can be decided by those who choose to stay home.

Choosing not to vote does impact election outcomes; in fact it’s often the same as casting a ballot for a party you don’t support. Taking the time to educate yourself may feel like a hassle but voting is a right that many have struggled to gain. Whether or not you believe your vote matters on the national scene it surely matters in the Territory.  Ryan Leef was sent to Ottawa on the strength of 131 votes. Those 131  votes made a huge difference.  In our small Yukon riding even a very few individuals can have a profound impact on the outcome of an election.

In October of 2015 we urge you to vote. Who gets your vote is up to you; we hope you ask tough questions and consider the good of working people and families, of the environment and the social fabric that we hold dear as Canadians. We also hope you take the time to review the platforms of the candidates and their parties.  41% of Canadians should not carry the future of this country. It’s up to all of us to join in and move Canada forward.

Look for YEU at the Fireweed Community Market Thursday afternoons in August; we will have our voter registration kiosk set up. Not sure if you’re on the eligible voter’s list for the 2015 election? Please stop by and check. More than 50% of those who stopped by on July 30th discovered (to their shock) that they were NOT registered, despite having voted in many previous federal elections. It’s worth checking out. If you won’t be at market, make sure you visit www.elections.ca and check for yourself.  Enumerators are NOT coming door to door this election to make sure you’re on the list… it’s up to YOU!

Download the poster and print it out for yourself. Why are YOU voting?need-change

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
Abraham Lincoln

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.

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.

Trans Rights in Yukon; One Small Victory at a Time

Kat-Traplin-Lois-Moorcroft-Chase-Blodgett2-May-13-2015-RGBYukon’s PSAC Pride Committee rep, MLA Lois Moorcroft and trans Rights activist Chase Blodgett at the Yukon Legislative Assembly following the passing of a motion forwarding Trans Rights in the Yukon Human Rights Act.


May 14th 2015 marked a positive step toward a more equitable Yukon.  Lois Moorcroft, MLA for Copperbelt South presented a motion to change the Yukon’s Human Rights Act to include language specifically protecting the rights of Yukon trans people. Her motions read:

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to review, and introduce amendments to, the Human Rights Act, before the end of its current mandate, to protect the human rights of trans people by adding “gender identity” and “gender expression” under section 7 of the Act as a prohibited ground for discrimination. 525. Ms. Moorcroft (Motion No. 994)

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to review its legislation, programs and services and introduce required amendments or policy changes in order to ensure the human rights of trans people are fully protected.

To most progressives, that seems straight forward. Simple. A no-brainer, even.  Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers,  Minister of Justice countered that all Yukon people are protected under Article 7 of the Yukon Human Rights Act which lists” sexual orientation” as prohibited grounds for discrimination.  Ms. Moorcroft put forward the argument that sexual orientation is a different thing entirely from whether or not one feels their gender identity aligns with the gender designated to them at birth.

The motion was debated, spun around, debated again, argued for and argued against. In the end as an olive branch and with a nod to the large gallery of concerned members of our community, Mr. Cathers proposed amending to the motion to add the words CONSIDER INTRODUCING AMENDMENTS and THE NEXT TIME THE ACT IS REVIEWED.

Not surprisingly, Ms. Moorcroft (and the gallery) felt the government’s offer to CONSIDER changing the legislation at some theoretical distant future date was not in keeping with the spirit of the motion.  The proposed amendment provided no certainty, no sense of urgency and no genuine commitment to change.

The floor of the Legislative Assembly became quite animated, with MLA’s and Ministers leaving the room and returning, conferring in the hallway with pages ferrying notes back and forth across the floor.

When all was said and done, and thanks in no small part to the contributions of Klondike MLA Sandy Silver, there was unanimous agreement to pass the motion without the word CONSIDER included.  The work will now be to ensure the Yukon Party maintains its commitment and prioritizes a review of the Yukon’s Human Rights Act sooner than later.

As passed:


Motion 792

THAT this House urges the Yukon government to advance equal rights for transsexual, transgender and gender-variant people by:

(1) introducing amendments to explicitly include “gender identity” and “gender expression” under section 7 of the Yukon Human Rights Act as a prohibited ground for discrimination the next time the act is reviewed;

(2) supporting full equality and respect for trans people accessing Yukon government jobs, programs and services; and

(3) using public education to fight intolerance, discrimination and violence against trans people.

The motion received the unanimous support of all MLA’s in a recorded vote.



PSAC and YEU Activists were present in the gallery along with other community members. YEU delegates to the PSAC National Convention in Quebec City in early May were particularly interested, as a series of resolutions addressing the rights of transgender people were brought to the floor, and all were passed with overwhelming support.  Unions have always walked alongside those who work to change the status quo. We are proud to be a part of the journey.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead, 1901-1978

It’s Summer, and that means ROAD Trip!

Dawson-Road-Trip-Scrolling-AdPSAC National Vice-President Chris Aylward and PSAC’s Regional Executive Vice-President for the North Jack Bourassa will join YEU President Steve Geick for a fairly epic summer road trip. They’ll be visiting all points between Whitehorse & Dawson, meeting Union and community members wherever they stop. There are AGM’s planned for Dawson City and a repeat engagement of the ever popular YEU Summer Bbq at the YOOP Hall.  If you’re in Dawson please stop by for a burger and a chance to talk with PSAC National leadership.

Come down and introduce yourself, find out what the union has planned for the next year and enjoy a great meal. Because really, what could be better than burgers and dogs in Dawson in June?!

Once the dogs and burgers are done and the BBQ has been stored away for another year, the intrepid union gentlemen will head up the highway, over the Top of the World and down through Beaver Creek, Destruction Bay, Burwash… you see where this is going, right? If you’re along the route, please make time to come out and say hello. We’ll let you know when to expect them in each location.

AGM’s will be held for Local Y033 (City of Dawson) and Y018 (KVA) workers on Wednesday June 24th at the YOOP Hall, so if you are a member of either of those Locals, make sure you come out the night before the bbq to your union meeting.

Straight Talk: Addiction & Accommodation at work.

addictDid you know that alcoholism and addiction are considered disabilities?

A seven year legal battle for two Ontario residents and a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada set a legal precedent on what constitutes a disability under Human Rights legislation. Employees who suffer from an illness or injury that restricts or limits their ability to perform their duties are considered to be “disabled” under employment law; addictions and alcoholism are considered disabilities.

Under the Yukon Human Rights Act, an employer must accommodate disabled employees – this is the “duty to accommodate”.  The right to equality for persons with disabilities is entrenched in Human Rights legislation across Canada.   If an employee suffers from an addiction they may have access to a workplace accommodation while they are recovering.

We say may because the duty to accommodate usually follows disclosure by the employee. The employee may believe they suffer from an addiction but unless this is disclosed, it’s tough for the employer to know what supports are appropriate.

An accommodation can be anything from  altered  hours of work, time off to attend counseling or treatment or even modified duties.  It may mean working in a different position or location. The intent is to reduce or eliminate the risk of further injury or illness, to meet operational needs and to allow the individual to continue working while recovery takes place.

If an employer suspects a medical condition may be affecting an employee’s performance, they have a duty to inquire. This means they may ask the employee if there are any medical restrictions or limitations, or if they have a medical condition they should be aware of.  This isn’t an invasion of your privacy just for the sake of asking; if you are asked, it likely means your employers have noticed you are struggling.

What can you do if you believe addiction is affecting your ability to carry out your duties?  Ask for help! Talk to your family or friends, consult with your family physician and tap into your employee assistance program.

If you believe you need a workplace accommodation, ask YEU for a union representative to help you talk to your supervisor.  Some employers offer financial support to attend treatment programs, follow up counseling or other rehabilitative programs.  All employers have a legal duty to accommodate an employee to the point of undue hardship.

If you’re in doubt about your responsibilities and your rights as a disabled employee or if you have any questions please contact YEU and your human resource branch. There is confidential support available and all levels can work together to help.  For your protection, it makes sense to make sure you have union support when you approach your employer; we will be with you every step of the way.