A picket line outside Yellowknife City Hall in February 2023. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
The City of Yellowknife wants to enter binding arbitration with unions representing municipal staff to end the current strike and lockout.
Binding arbitration would force the two sides to present their cases to an impartial arbitrator, who makes a ruling that must be accepted by both parties, regardless of what it says.
The city said it formally offered binding arbitration to Local 345, which represents most municipal employees, on Wednesday.
Earlier, the unions called on the city to accept a proposal of their own that slightly lowers the overall salary increase they had previously sought. The city on Thursday said it had issued a counter-proposal to that nine days ago but had not heard back.
The city said that if the unions accept binding arbitration, it will work with the unions to jointly select an arbitrator.
In past circumstances, the Union of Northern Workers has supported binding arbitration as a resolution when parties can’t agree – a fact the city pointed out in its Thursday press release.
In early 2019, as a labour dispute with the NWT government escalated, then-president of the UNW Todd Parsons said: “Let’s be clear – if the government was serious about fixing this situation and settling this dispute they could do so today, right now, and simply agree to binding arbitration.”
The Union of Northern Workers and Public Service Alliance of Canada, in a brief written statement, said: “The union received the employer’s arbitration request after 4:00pm yesterday. Right now we are focusing our efforts on discussing this development with our members and will provide a response in due time.”