June 17--No Deal from Latest Hay River Strike Talks
The Union followed through with our commitment to bring the employer's last offer to the members. The members overwhelmingly voted to reject the offer at a meeting last night.
The Bargaining Team is willing to return to the table at any time to entertain a fair offer from the Employer.
“Recent agreements with the Village of Fort Simpson, Fort Smith Housing Authority and AVENS: A Community for Seniors have all produced wage settlements of two per cent per year or better,” says Union of Northern Workers President Todd Parsons, “Yet this employer refuses to bend in reaching a similar, reasonable settlement.”
“While our negotiations have fallen through, our members are still confident we can find the common ground necessary to reach an agreement,” says Jack Bourassa, Regional Executive Vice President for PSAC North. “Town of Hay River workers will stand together until we reach a fair and reasonable deal.”
The union continues to urge the Town of Hay River to soften their hardline position and negotiate an agreement that will allow members to return to work.
June 1--Worker Will Vote on Deal Once Return to Work Agreement in Place
Striking Town of Hay River employees are prepared to vote on the employer’s offer once a return to work agreement is put in place.
A return to work agreement is a protocol that states the conditions for employees to return to work following a labour dispute. The agreement is not a new condition imposed by the union, but is instead a common practice in all contract negotiations that protects the interests of both the workers and the employer.
Town of Hay River workers and Town Council need to be aware of return to work protocols before they can reasonably vote on the contract offer on the table.
“The Town has said publicly that they will be eliminating positions of some members now on strike,” says Jack Bourassa, Regional Executive Vice President North for the Public Service Alliance of Canada. “We’re not going to vote on new contract conditions unless we know all our striking members are going back to work. Having a back to work agreement is standard practice in the settlement of any strike.”
Union representatives have made clear the need for an agreement throughout the negotiations. The Town of Hay River bargaining team has said it needs a back to work agreement in place for the Council to make a decision on any proposal.
“How can a member vote on a contract offer when they don’t even know if they have a job to go back to?” Union of Northern Workers Vice President Gayla Thunstrom says, “How can all striking members vote on an offer when they don’t know if their co-workers are losing their jobs?”
“We’ve promised to take the Town’s offer to the membership, and we will. But not before we can give our members all the facts,” Thunstrom says. “Our bargaining team has supplied a draft back to work agreement for the Town’s consideration. It’s up to them to respond.”
A return to work protocol was put in place for Fort Smith Housing Authority workers before a vote was held to end the their strike in February, under the guidance of the same employer negotiator as Hay River.
“The Town’s position throws up obstacles around a step that is a standard protocol in voting on any settlement where a strike is involved.” Bourassa says, “The sooner we get the back to work agreement done, the sooner we can go to a vote.”
The Town has stated that they are withdrawing their current offer, and the union remains committed to returning to the table immediately.
May 21--Hay River Employees to Resume Talks
Bargaining teams representing Town of Hay River workers and their employer will resume negotiations in an effort to find common ground and put an end to the labour dispute. Both parties will resume talks Monday May 25.
“This strike has taken a heavy toll on the community,” says Jack Bourassa, Regional Executive Vice President for the Public Service Alliance of Canada North. “Although we believed we were at an impasse, the Town indicated a willingness to negotiate, and our members are prepared to exhaust every avenue possible to end the strike.”
May 6--Striking Workers Will Picket NWTAC Meeting
April 29--PSAC National Convention Contributes Over $100,000 to Hay River Strikers
April 28--Town of Hay River Rejects Binding Arbitration
April 22--Union Calls for Arbitration to End Hay River Strike
Town of Hay River workers were unfortunately unable to reach a fair deal with their employer during a third round of bargaining April 19-20.
The bargaining team for Town employees went to the table fully prepared to reach an agreement that would allow members to return to work, but the employer failed to propose a reasonable offer.
“All our members are very disappointed with the failure to reach a settlement,” says Jack Bourassa, Regional Executive Vice President, North for the Public Service Alliance of Canada. “The Town has saved the cost of this wage increase many times over through not paying 10 weeks of salaries. Allowing workers to remain on the picket line is only hurting the community.”
“Our Members are united and determined. They absolutely refuse to accept the Town’s measly offers when everyone knows a full settlement comes at no cost to Town coffers,” says Union of Northern Workers President Todd Parsons. “We will hold the line as long as it takes to get a fair settlement that recognizes the sacrifices made by our Members since February.”
April 13--Hay River in Danger of Losing Major Conference
March 12--Hay River Needs a Lesson in Fair Bargaining, Say UNW and PSAC Leaders
Yet employer willingness to reach a settlement doesn't seem to exist in Hay River.
Feb 25—Union forced to walk away from the table
February 24—Invited back to the table
February 16—Northern Journal - Walking the Line, Seeking Fairness
February 9—Town of Hay River Strike Underway
Unionized workers at the Town of Hay River will begin a strike with full withdrawal of services Monday February 9 at 8 AM.
Public Service Alliance of Canada North members of Union of Northern Workers (UNW) Local 6 will set up a picket line at their strike headquarters outside the town’s Recreation Centre.
The required 72 hour strike notice was served following approval of documentation by the Canada Industrial Relations Board.
Negotiators from the Public Service Alliance of Canada have been in contract talks since August 2014. Workers voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action on January 12. Conciliation broke down during the first day January 13, without an agreement.
Town negotiators originally made an extremely poor wage offer, and have moved only slightly. Members’ primary negotiating demand is for a modest increase in wages, in keeping with the increase in the cost of living.
“The stalled negotiations and lack of a reasonable offer have left our members with no choice,” says UNW President Todd Parsons. “We’re determined to see this strike action through to a fair agreement that’s good for the workers and the community.”
Public Service Alliance of Canada Regional Executive Vice President Jack Bourassa says that Local 6 and the Town are so close in their positions that a settlement could be reached if the Town would come back to bargaining with a fair offer.
“The difference in positions amounts to the price of a cup of coffee a day,” he said. “We could settle this if the Town would be reasonable.”
A PSAC negotiator is on stand-by to resume talks, should the Town want to come back to the bargaining table.
Approximately 30 Local 6 members will be involved in the strike action. Some municipal employees have been declared essential, and will perform emergency services.
Read the Media Release
February 6—Town of Hay River Workers Give Strike Notice
January 12—Hay River Employees Take Strike Vote