City declares impasse with union over new deal

A sign inside Yellowknife's City Hall
A sign inside Yellowknife's City Hall. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

The City of Yellowknife says negotiations with the Union of Northern Workers over a new collective agreement for staff have “reached an impasse.”

Last week, the union said the City had not been “acting in good faith” by proposing, in the middle of collective bargaining, to contract out some work.

The City has stated no jobs would be affected by its plan to contract out some baling services at the dump. Existing staff would stop doing that work and instead focus on longer-term projects designed to improve the way Yellowknife handles its waste and recycling.

The old collective agreement expired at the end of 2018. Bargaining began this past May.



Now, the City says, negotiations will proceed to conciliation, a similar process to the mediation used to help resolve the territorial government’s collective bargaining crisis earlier this year.

The union, acknowledging the impasse, said it was “disappointed to report that negotiations between the union’s bargaining team and the City of Yellowknife have broken down.”

In the union’s view, “the employer has refused to discuss contracting out positions, and the parties have failed to reach any resolutions concerning casual employees.”

Union leader Todd Parsons said in a statement the union would “not be issuing any statements regarding its members’ concerns until it has had an opportunity to meet and talk with those members, to determine what course of action will serve their best interests.”



‘New approach’

Earlier on Wednesday, the City had said in a statement: “Unfortunately, discussions reached an impasse on October 9. The stumbling block is the issue of potentially contracting out a portion of the City’s solid waste facility operations.”

The City says it consulted the union about the “potential plans” in August and “has the right to contract out work” now that such a consultation has taken place.

“In response to local, national and international changes with recycling and solid waste management issues, the City is looking at a range of options including potentially contracting out baling garbage,” City Hall’s statement read.

“The purpose of this would be to pilot a new approach to garbage baling so that staff can focus on the other duties in their job descriptions that will improve garbage and recycling activities for the community.

“The City has reaffirmed with both the union and City employees that the potential of contracting out garbage baling would not result in any reduction in the workforce or transfer of employees.”

‘Strongly opposed’

“Despite the current impasse, the next stage is conciliation and the City remains hopeful that we will be successful in reaching a collective agreement,” the City’s statement concluded.

Last week, the union – while not directly addressing the City’s suggestion that no jobs are being lost or transferred – said staff at City Hall were “strongly opposed to the City contracting out their work.”

“Members said that the language in the collective agreement regarding the practice of contracting out must be strengthened and now is the time,” said union leader Todd Parsons in a statement at the time.