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Union for most City of Yellowknife workers to hold strike vote

The Union of Northern Workers, which represents most City of Yellowknife workers, says members of Local X0345 will have opportunities to join information sessions, and cast their ballot, on Tuesday. (Sidney Cohen/CBC - image credit)
The Union of Northern Workers, which represents most City of Yellowknife workers, says members of Local X0345 will have opportunities to join information sessions, and cast their ballot, on Tuesday. (Sidney Cohen/CBC - image credit)

The union representing most City of Yellowknife workers will hold a strike vote on Tuesday.

The Union of Northern Workers (UNW) says members of Local X0345 will have opportunities to join information sessions, and cast their ballot, throughout the day.

The strike vote comes amid rising tensions between the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) — the umbrella union for the UNW — and the City of Yellowknife.

Collective bargaining broke down in December after the parties met with a federally-appointed conciliator, but failed to reach an agreement.

That same week, Yellowknife city manager Sheila Bassi-Kellett sent an email to more than 200 city employees saying the union was preparing for a strike vote and laid out the city's offer in collective agreement negotiations.

That email prompted PSAC to accuse the city of engaging in "bad faith intimidation tactics" and circumventing the collective bargaining process.

The city countered that it respects the collective bargaining process and continues to make "good faith efforts to reach a collective agreement."

Most city workers have been without a collective agreement since December 31st, 2021.

The union hasn't said publicly what wage increases and other items it's asking for.

Bassi-Kellett's December email said the city is offering, among other things, a two per cent increase on salary retroactive to January 1st, 2022, and a two per cent increase effective January 1st, 2023.

The UNW declined an interview, but president Gayla Thunstrom said in an emailed statement that "the bargaining team is talking and consulting with members, and if members have any questions or concerns they are encouraged to contact their union rep."

PSAC did not immediately provide an interview on Wednesday. The city said no one was available to do an interview Wednesday and Mayor Rebecca Alty also said she wasn't available.

Lorraine Rousseau, regional executive vice-president for the Public Service Alliance of Canada North, has said that if members vote to strike, they would walk off the job in February.