City and workers formally accept agreement, ending strike and lockout

Last modified: March 17, 2023 at 9:18pm

Unionized City of Yellowknife workers have formally ratified a new collective agreement and the deal has been authorized by city council, ending a six-week strike and lockout.

In a news release shortly before 9pm on Friday, unions representing city staff said a majority of workers had ratified a deal that offers annual pay increases of three percent, then 2.75 percent.

Yellowknife’s city councillors met moments later to pass a bylaw authorizing the agreement, the last step in the process.


“Wooooo,” said Rebecca Alty, Yellowknife’s mayor, in an opening statement as the bylaw was given its second and third readings.

In a statement, Union of Northern Workers president Gayla Thunstrom said she was “so proud of the members, standing up for what they believe in and each other.”

The figures agreed this week are above the two-percent annual increases proposed in the city’s previous public offer, but below the 3.75-percent annual increases the unions had been seeking.

The three-percent increase is backdated to January 1, 2022, followed by a 2.75-percent increase backdated to January 1, 2023.

The agreement also comes with signing bonuses of up to $1,800, depending on a worker’s status, and some other amendments to benefits.


The deal expires at the end of this calendar year, meaning a new agreement will be needed for 2024 onward.

City council had already given the relevant bylaw its first reading on Friday morning, then spent the day waiting for the ratification process to conclude.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada and UNW had earlier suggested ratification might not take place until Monday but, with a return-to-work agreement finalized first thing on Friday, the schedule was rapidly revised and ratification concluded at 7pm.

Not all facilities will reopen immediately, and many programs and services will take some time to resume as workers return and begin making inroads on backlogs that have built up since a work stoppage began on February 8.


In an email to workers, the unions said supervisors and public works staff now have just 24 hours to contact their managers and declare that they plan to return to work. “You must abide by this deadline or be considered to have quit,” the unions advised those employees in a mixture of bold and red type.

All other employees have 48 hours to do the same, the email stated.

The city has published a webpage setting out its plan for the return to normal levels of service.