A picket line outside Yellowknife City Hall on February 8. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
Unions representing City of Yellowknife workers have made public a proposal that modestly trims back the annual salary increases previously sought.
The proposal published by the unions’ bargaining team on Wednesday seeks 3.75-percent annual pay hikes, down slightly from a previous request for increases of five percent then three percent.
In making the proposal, the unions are moving around half a percentage point closer to the city’s proposal of two-percent pay increases each year – a figure the unions have repeatedly said they will not accept, given the recent rate of inflation.
But the Public Service Alliance of Canada and Union of Northern Workers say the city saw this proposal more than a week ago, on February 13, and rejected most of it, including the salary increases. The City of Yellowknife has been approached for comment.
In a statement to reporters, three members of the unions’ bargaining unit said they believed unionized workers would ratify the proposal within 24 hours if asked.
“Our goal is to bring this labour dispute to a close and get us back to work,” they stated.
“We feel our last proposal was fair and reasonable and we are hoping that city council will provide the employer with a new mandate that will allow our bargaining teams to close the gap and get us back to work.”
The first 3.75-percent increase would be backdated to January 1, 2022, and the second to January 1, 2023.
The proposal comes with various other clauses, which include:
signing bonuses of $1,000 for full-time and term staff, $500 for permanent part-time or seasonal staff, and $250 for part-time casuals;
one extra day of leave with pay “for reasons of personal nature” per year;
giving part-time casual staff the right to breaks and rest periods when working 7.5 or eight hours a day;
adding the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a designated paid holiday; and
making acting pay effective after one day acting in a role, not three.
The city has previously tried to use one-off lump-sum payments to account for recent inflation without moving on its two-percent-a-year base offer, an approach the unions have rejected.
Yellowknife’s latest consumer price index data, released this week, shows the rate of inflation has slowed over the past six months to a little over six percent a year, but the price of food has risen by 10 percent year on year.
City workers have been on strike since February 8 over the issue of how their salaries should increase.
Separately, employees at the Union of Northern Workers itself have asked for mediation with their employer, the union, as they feel their own wages are not rising quickly enough to account for inflation.