City of Yellowknife workers head to Tuesday strike vote
Most unionized City of Yellowknife workers are being asked to vote on potential strike action at a series of meetings on Tuesday.
Local 345, which represents many city workers, is asking members to vote between 6am and 7pm as the latest step in a dispute with the municipality that centres on salary increases.
The city is offering unionized workers a two-percent salary increase backdated to the start of 2022 and another two-percent increase in 2023. The Union of Northern Workers, of which Local 345 is a part, says the offer on the table is too little.
Attempts to move the collective bargaining process forward with an independent conciliator in December failed.
Strike votes often result in strike action but that isn’t always the case.
A strike vote ordinarily asks members whether or not to deliver a strike mandate to the union’s negotiators: in other words, whether or not to give the union the power to call a strike at a later date of its choosing.
A “yes” vote in that situation therefore does not automatically mean a strike will take place, though it makes that outcome significantly more likely.
Sometimes, a “yes” vote can be used by unions to strengthen their negotiating positions and secure concessions from an employer at the bargaining table. Strikes, unions generally say, are a last resort.
A simple majority of voting members decides the vote’s outcome, meaning the result could partly hinge on how many people show up to vote.
When and how the vote’s results will be communicated is not clear.
In a 2018 dispute with the NWT government that reached the same point, the Union of Northern Workers waited a number of weeks to release a brief summary of results. The timing of that announcement, if one comes at all, can also play a role in the bargaining process.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada, of which the UNW is a component, has said strike action may be possible from February onward if Tuesday’s strike vote authorizes that outcome.