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Todd Parsons to step down as Union of Northern Workers leader

Todd Parsons, the Union of Northern Workers president, flanked by union local leaders at a news conference on February 5, 2019
Todd Parsons, the Union of Northern Workers president, flanked by union local leaders at a news conference on February 5, 2019. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Todd Parsons will not seek re-election as Union of Northern Workers president in October, ending almost two decades in charge of the North’s most prominent union.

Parsons, a firefighter, was first elected to the role in 2002 and was subsequently returned to the position five times, most recently in 2017. The union on Friday confirmed he would not stand again this fall.

“The UNW can confirm that Todd Parsons will not be seeking re-election at the UNW Triennial Convention in October,” a spokesperson told Cabin Radio by email.

The convention, to be held from October 15 to 17, was delayed by a year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. That, in turn, extended Parsons’ latest term by one year. Ordinarily, the union’s president serves a three-year term.



It’s not yet clear who Parsons’ successor might be. Nominations are only accepted at the convention itself.

As union leader, Parsons was a key figure as the UNW and NWT government nearly triggered a general strike in February 2019. Thousands of territorial government workers came within 24 hours of walking off the job after three years of negotiations toward a collective agreement failed. Eventually, with a mediator’s help, the two parties agreed a path forward one day before a strike was due to begin.

More recently, an apparently more straightforward set of negotiations led to the declaration of a “tentative” deal on the latest GNWT collective bargaining agreement at the end of May. Those negotiations took barely longer than a month.

The latest deal, expected to run for two years, is understood to offer workers a 1.5-percent increase retroactive to April 1, 2021 and a 1.5-percent increase effective April 1, 2022. There are a range of provisions related to Covid-19 and an increase in domestic violence leave, among other changes.

That tentative agreement still requires ratification by the UNW’s membership, for which votes have been taking place. The ratification process closes at the end of Sunday, according to the union’s website, with an announcement expected shortly afterward.