Yukon Employees Union September 2017 Newsletter

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Yukon Employees’ Union 2285-2nd Ave. Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 1C9

Yukon Employees’ Union

September 2017


Thanks to the generosity of our community, we were able to build a Massive Mountain of Mac & Cheese at our 23rd annual Feed the People barbeque and donate almost 3000 boxes of mac & cheese to the busy Whitehorse Food Bank! It's hard to visualize 1500 boxes of mac, harder still to imagine that there are about that many boxes distributed to Whitehorse families each month. The boxed pasta often forms a part of the 2-3 day emergency food hamper available once monthly to their 1350 clients. Many of those helped are families with children. THANK YOU! Please continue to support the work of the Food Bank through regular cash donations (Green Apple Club) or donations of food or funds. The Whitehorse Food Bank is looking for board members! If you are passionate about your community and have time to share, please email: office@whitehorsefoodbank.ca

Yukon Transportation Museum Director Janna Swales receives an historic document donated by the Yukon Employees’ Union. This framed certificate is the original Charter of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes [sic], Carcross Yukon. It’s dated 1962 and the member of the Lodge were M. L. Lintic - President, James Ryan - VP, K. Mczka - Sec. Treas & Recording Secretary, D. Cresswell - Journal Agent, Dan Johnson Chaplain, W. H Scheffler - Conductor, Ed Gibson Warden, A. Palzer - Inner Sentinel and W. H. Macleod -

Outer Sentinel. The Brotherhood of the Maintenance of Way Employes was founded in 1887 and joined the Teamsters in 2004. They represent workers who build and maintain the tracks, bridges and buildings on the railroads of the United States. YEU was glad to share this bit of union & transportation history with the museum.


Your Local Executive receives a monthly dues remittance from the Yukon Employees’ Union based on the size of the membership. This remittance forms its annual budget and is the Local’s share of the tax deductible union dues you pay each month.

What happens to the money? Your Local is entitled to spend their budget as they see fit. Maybe it’s used to pay for special projects within the Local, to offer pizza or door prizes at Local meetings to encourage members to participate. Maybe the Local donates to a community organization or hosts a special event. Unfortunately in some cases, the money just sits there in the bank, not doing much at all. Why?

If members don’t participate in the Local meetings, don’t show up at an AGM & vote on a proposed budget and don’t get involved, there’s no direction for the Executive. Who decides where the money goes if nobody shows up to meetings? We’ve said it before - YOU are the union. The dues the Local receives come from the members and it’s up to the members how the Local uses its own money - your money, really.

Do you have an idea that you think your Local should get behind?

1. Get out to a meeting - help create a dynamic and engaged Local. 2. If you have an idea for a project your Local could support or you see gaps in training or services the Local can provide, make a proposal! Talk to your co-workers and come up with ideas. Your Local is YOU.

Local Executive volunteers get tired out very quickly sometimes. They are often overloaded and weary and could use support from their members. Not sure when your Local meets? Visit yeu.ca/locals or our Events Calendar and find out. Show up to a meeting. Share the work, share the fun and help make some important decisions.


recarious.The word makes me think of danger, uncertainty and risk. The definition is “held through the favor of another, obtained by asking or praying and dependent on the will of another”.

When you put the word “workforce” behind precarious it takes on a whole new meaning. If it sounds horrible, that’s because it is. Lots of precarious work is mis-labelled as offering “flexible-hours” or is classified as temporary, contract or seasonal. This precarity is accepted as the price of an entry level job, or as a way for older workers to remain employed to supplement their CPP or pension, if they’re lucky enough to have one. Looking around, we see the growth of the “gig economy”. Many young workers know they’re not likely find a single job that will sustain and support them – they’ll have to juggle multiple “side-gigs” to pay the bills.

Across Canada, companies and governments are staffing permanent positions with contract and temporary workers. These vulnerable workers do the same work as permanent employees – often working right alongside the permanent staffers, but they are denied the rights of full employment. These workers are subject to unreliable income, no job security, and lower wages. Thanks to the nature of their employment, they’re often denied the right to join a union. Even when they have the right to unionize, many are afraid - they know full well how easily they can be replaced. Women, youth, minorities and migrant workers are much more likely to fill these kinds of jobs- at least that has been true in years past. The demographics are changing though. Permanent employment across many sectors has shifted to precarious jobs through outsourcing, use of employment agencies, and the inappropriate classification of workers as “shortterm” or “independent contractors.”

Does this type of exploitation exist in the Yukon? Absolutely! Over the last few years Yukon Employees’ Union has successfully unionized a number of workplaces that follow this staffing model. Many are organizations providing social services to vulnerable community members. These are often nonprofit organizations, overseen by volunteer boards of directors. Reliant on government funding or grants, there is rarely much room to maneuver in their staffing budgets, so some rely on “creative employment standards” to meet their staffing needs …precarious employment resulting in high staff turnover rates. Of course these outcomes can also result in the organization’s diminished ability to meet client needs.

From the President’s Desk Steve Geick People who choose to work in care and service roles are some of the most compassionate and empathetic people I have met, hard-wired to put the needs of those they serve before their own needs. It’s a sad truth that most are also struggling to make ends meet, working more than full time hours, working more than one job, with few benefits and no job security.

While these non-profit sector bargaining units are small, there are now roughly 300 Yukoners that can count on a living wage, benefits and perhaps even some form of retirement package. This means they can do the work they love without struggling with the precarity of so many similar jobs.

Our goal as a union is to remind employers of their contractual obligations to their workforce. It’s not acceptable to manipulate the rules of engagement to keep workers from accessing the full benefits of their labours. When a seasonal employee is re-hired year after year, but laid off for one day each year so the employer can sidestep the duty to provide a full employment package, we’re going to step up and challenge that. We don’t believe in a two-tiered workforce, with permanent and precarious temporary workers doing the same job while receiving wildly different levels of respect and payment.

We have had some success with our larger employers by monitoring the use of on call, seasonal and casual employees. We will continue lobbying to ensure anyone working full time hours is treated equitably, with a proper rate of pay, benefits and workplaces that are safe both physically and mentally. To date YEU has been able to facilitate those changes for about 50 Yukon workers.

What difference does the permanent job make? Same job, same or similar rate of pay, with a benefit plan, the ability to contribute to a pension, and stability! Think of the impact on a worker’s life; a permanent job (not a precarious, seasonal or never-ending series of temporary contracts) can mean the difference between being accepted or denied for a mortgage. Only the employer benefits from staffing permanent positions with contract, seasonal and temporary workers. Our communities suffer, workers suffer, and the inequities between coworkers creates an unjust working environment. 50 workers now in permanent jobs; 300 Yukoners working in service roles who are now able to count on a living wage and union representation – those are no small achievements. We’re not done, but that’s okay. We’re going to keep at it - stay tuned!

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ue Christianson knows her way around a Labour Day Barbeque! She should, considering she has been a big part of the event for most of its 23 year history. At first, she helped out as a volunteer. This year, she once again orchestrated the event behind the scenes, called on members to volunteer and did more than her share of slicing, dicing and serving the community in Shipyards Park. Helping out with the annual event has always been a fun and enjoyable aspect of her participation as a union activist.

Sue was elected to the role of Yukon Employees’ Union Vice President in 2014, but she first got involved with YEU in 1989. “I had to take time off work to look after my son, My supervisor & Director wouldn't approve the doctor directed leave. I was accused of abandoning my position, so I filed a grievance.” She won, and an activist was born. Sue has spent almost 30 years standing up for workers’ rights. She says “when you get involved, you see so many things going wrong - you try to make it right for people so they can enjoy their everyday life at work. That’s why I got involved as a Shop steward.”

She has generously shared her commitment to union values with others along the way. “I'm most proud of the work I have done with members during the past 3 years. I have mentored members, helped local officers understand their roles & made myself available for all their questions. I have joined members during their bargaining of new & long standing Collective Agreements. I have made many friends through my YEU work.”

Over the years, Sue has served in almost every possible union role. Active first as a Shop Steward, she allowed her name to stand for the Local Executive, and occupied leadership positions for many years at the Local level. She has been a very active member of several PSAC Committees, including the Regional Women’s Committee, Aboriginal Peoples Committee, Access Cttee. and the Area Council. Sue serves on the PSAC North Council, Alliance Facilitators’ Network and Executive Council of the Yukon Federation of Labour.

The last three years have been incredibly busy for the YEU, and the Vice President roles are evolving. Sue says “My challenge coming into the role of VP was that there was no job description to follow or training given. I worked with the President & 2nd VP to define our roles and we have worked to develop more structure to strengthen YEU” While there’s more work to do, we believe we’re well on our way.

YEU Triennial Convention Delegates, Elections & Roles Convention, held every three years, is the decision making machinery of the Union. It’s here that key issues are decided, political priorities are determined and leadership is chosen. Delegates select from amongst their own ranks those who will carry out the mandate established on the convention floor.

The positions elected at Convention are: President Vice-President Vice-President, Communities Equal Opportunities (Equity) Director

Secretary Treasurer Six (6) Directors Youth Director

Directors are expected to attend monthly Executive meetings, may be asked to act as Local liaisons and will lead by example as active volunteers at Union events. The role is very rewarding, and has a significant impact on the function of the organization. The Equity Director position is unique; the individual elected to this role takes a seat on the PSAC’s National Equity Committee. Responsibilities include attending regular teleconferences and occasional travel to meetings in Ottawa. Convention delegates will also select eight (8) delegates and alternates to the PSAC National Convention, held in June 2018. Each elected role has important duties and responsibilities, and each is necessary for the Union to succeed. We hope all Convention delegates give serious thought to who they feel would best represent them in each role, and to nominate those individuals. If you are nominated, congratulations - it’s quite an honour. We hope you will carefully consider the demands of the role before agreeing to let your name stand. Each Convention, each Executive brings new energy and life into the Yukon Employees’ Union and we look forward to the next three years with the 2017-20 Leadership Team.

There is Power in the Union! YEU Triennial Convention 2017


nited Way Yukon is set to launch what they hope will be a breakthrough year for the organization. The Board of Directors and new Executive Director Vishnu Vijay have planned a fall schedule of events sure to generate excitement and fun while they raise much needed funds.

How can you help the United Way Yukon meet its goals?

1. Pull a Plane!

The 2017 Plane Pull is an the first event in this campaign season. What a way to kick things off! Teams of 15 will each get one shot at pulling a 95,000 pound Air North Boeing 737 for 50 feet! There will be prizes for Fastest Team, Top Fundraising Team, Top Individual Fundraiser, and Bestdressed Team – so get a team together and start thinking about costumes! Air North has partnered with UWY, providing space, staff, and the loan of a (heavy) jet.

United Way Yukon Plane Pull - Saturday September 23.

Details, team registration and pledge info can be found online at unitedwayukon.ca.

2. Come for Breakfast!

The United Way Breakfast, put on each year by Yukon Government employees is the society’s main fundraiser. “The breakfast is a wonderful event and an important source of funds for our fall campaign” said Mr. Whiteside.

Pulling Together - the theme of the 2017 United Way Breakfast, reflects the community’s support. The breakfast is possible thanks to everyone pulling together, donating food & silent auction items. Local musicians donate their talents and many YEU members volunteer their time and energy to make it work. Last year’s breakfast netted just over 27,000 dollars!

YEU hopes you’ll come out to enjoy a fine breakfast, cooked by Mounties, served by local celebrities, and orchestrated by YEU members! While you’re there, buy a raffle ticket and make a bid on a great silent auction item. Breakfast tickets are available on line. Can’t attend? Donate a ticket to the Food Bank!

The United Way Breakfast Friday Sept 29th. High Country Inn 6:30 to 9:30am

3. Donate at Work!

The payroll donation campaign provides UWY with the bulk of its financial support each year. Whiteside says ”I certainly do not want to understate the importance of fund raising events. An annual ball hockey tournament organized by Federal Government employees has been a long time fixture in our campaign but the mainstay of our fund raising efforts happens in the workplace.”

Volunteer canvassers go desk-to-desk inviting people to donate a portion of their paycheque to United Way Yukon. This is the real work of the campaign and yields the greatest results for Yukon charities.

Does your employer offer a payroll contribution program? If not, perhaps you can suggest it to your co-workers and HR. UWY would be happy to help get things set up. Details on setting up payroll deductions is on the website’s giving tab.

Vijay, the group’s new Executive Director brings his passion for helping others achieve their goals to the job. He hopes to help grow the United Way’s support, raising funds to support ever more community projects.

Labour and the United Way have a long history of partnerships in Canada - you can expect to see our President and Vice Presidents serving breakfast and pouring coffee at the Breakfast. Our members are significant donors to the UWY’s annual initiatives and the communities we share benefit from those contributions. It’s thanks to the ongoing support of workers, of community members that United Way Yukon can support the work of so many Yukon non-profits and charities.

We Share the Air Sensitivity to low levels of toxic chemicals is a serious and growing medical problem, disabling an increasing number of otherwise healthy workers. More women than men are affected, with symptoms that may include migraines, asthma attacks, facial swelling, eye irritation, vomiting, chest pains etc.

What You Can Do: Refrain from wearing perfume, cologne or aftershave when going out to public places. Refrain from using scented hair and body products and use unscented household products too.

Workplace Policy, Scent-Free Environments Perfume can affect a person’s ability to work. If a co-worker or friend tells you that your perfume is making them ill, believe them and do not take offence. The reaction is not to you, personally, but to one or more of the hundreds of chemicals that are present in many scented products. Some employers, in an attempt to minimize workplace exposure to perfumes and other scented products, have endorsed workplace policies. Policies are a good tool that not only limit contamination of the indoor air quality but also increase awareness of workers of the issue of environmental illness.

Steps to creating a scent-free workplace: •

Discuss the benefits of having a scent-free workplace with other workers.

Address employee concerns openly and honestly.

Develop a workplace policy on the use of scent free products.

Ensure full participation of the policy with workplace health and safety committees.

Emphasize that a scent free policy is a health and safety issue for the workplace.

Let everyone know that the policy will be reviewed and may be changed or revised because of experience or new knowledge.

• •

Make it clear that the policy applies to everyone having access to the workplace (including visitors, contractors etc.)

Display signs that welcome people to your scent free workplace.

Excerpted from the PSAC’s January 2017 We Share the Air Publication. For more information or a copy of the publication, please contact the PSAC Regional Health & Safety Committee through the Whitehorse Regional Office; call 867-668-8593 or email dalleys@psac-afpc.com Page 6


ony Thomas has covered a lot of distance in the last three years, both literally and figuratively. Elected in 2014 as the first fulltime YEU Vice-President, Communities, Tony has spent the term defining the role as he puts a face to the union in the farthest corners of the territory.

The most important element of the job, he believes, has been establishing relationships and building trust. Members have to know the union will be there for them in a time of need. Until now, it’s been hard to maintain the consistent presence it takes to build that confidence. Driving to Whitehorse for a meeting at the Union Hall isn’t an option for members in the communities. Having a representative who visits often, understands the issues and knows the members’ concerns is a huge advantage.

One of the best features of the job, says Tony, has been the opportunity to develop real friendships wherever he travels. He’s been invited into members’ homes for dinner, has spent time visiting every community, and has developed a deeper understanding of the unique challenges workers face throughout the Yukon.

Tony hopes greater union presence will help members understand what YEU does on their behalf every day. The discussions he’s had with workers have helped YEU address some community-specific challenges we might not have been aware of otherwise. As time passes, this improved communication and connection will, he hopes, allow for quicker resolution of workplace issues. It might even keep employers on their toes.

Through the creation of the full-time Community VP position, there’s more opportunity to provide training outside of Whitehorse, and to help grow the connections between our office and our members. In fact, along with Tony’s frequent visits, our Shop Steward Coordinator David Anderson has provided training in both Watson Lake and Dawson City, and our Labour Relations Advisors have made many community visits.

Delegates to the 2014 Triennial Convention demanded more comprehensives services to the membership outside of Whitehorse through the creation of the second VP position. YEU NEWS Sept 2017

We Fed the People,

Who’s Your Shop Steward?

But we didn’t do it


What does your shopping list look like when you’ve invited 1500 people for lunch? You can be sure to need more than one grocery cart...

The YEU Labour Day barbeque feeds between 1200 and 1500 people each year, for free. The menu includes burgers and hot dogs with all the fresh veggie fixings, hot buttered corn on the cob, chips, fruit, juice, coffee, cake... the list goes on and on.

In the past, the Whitehorse Superstore has been kind enough to offer us special pricing and a healthy discount, helping us stretch our budget. This year, we approached Superstore with our grocery list several weeks before Labour Day to make sure we could get everything we needed in plenty of time. Pick up times were arranged & details discussed. Then Superstore surprised us with an incredibly generous gift.

Store Manager Jake Mclean told us that this year, our local Real Canadian Superstore would DONATE ALL THE FOOD for our 23rd Annual Feed the People Barbeque. That’s right... DONATE ALL THE FOOD!!

We are very grateful to all who helped, including Local Y011 and Y024 who donated funds. Their donations will allow us to contribute in other ways to community groups like the Whitehorse Food Bank and others.

Generosity was in the air on Labour Day. Douma Alwarid of Heat Yukon donated 500 boxes of macaroni & cheese, and the United Church built a Church of Mac! With YEU’s 2,000 box donation and contributions from so many who came to the barbeque, almost 3,000 boxes were delivered to the Whitehorse Food Bank. That’s amazing!

Thank you to the many volunteers who helped make it all happen, with a special nod to Keith Forsgren of the City of Whitehorse who went WAY above & beyond to make sure everything in Shipyards Park ran smoothly. And a MASSIVE thank you to Superstore Whitehorse!

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If you don’t know your Shop Steward, contact us. Curious about the role? Please contact YEU Shop Steward Coordinator David Anderson at 667-2331 or send him an email; danderson@yeu.ca. Shop Steward training & support are provided! YEU NEWS Sept 2017

At right, new volunteers at the YEU’s New Shop Steward Orientation Sept. 7. Congratulations to our new Shop Stewards! Thanks for stepping up to help your co-workers navigate issues on the job. Need a Shop Steward? Contact us!

Meetings & Events

Y010 Monthly Meeting: 2nd Tues., 5:30-7:30 p.m., YEU Hall

Shop Steward Round Table: Wed Sept 20, 9am - noon, YEU

YEU Triennial Convention: October 27-29, KDCC

YEU Monthly Exec Meeting: 2nd Thurs., 5:15 - 7pm, YEU

Y017 Monthly Meeting: 4th Thursday, 7:15 p.m., YEU Hall


Christie Harper, Labour Relations Advisor; charper@yeu.ca Susan Koser, Labour Relations Advisor; skoser@yeu.ca

Dan Robinson, Labour Relations Advisor; drobinson@yeu.ca Beckie Huston, Intake Officer; bhuston@yeu.ca Tammy Olsen, Financial Officer; tolsen@yeu.ca

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(SSRT Topic: Good Communication in Bad Situations

David Anderson, Shop Steward Coordinator; danderson@yeu.ca Roseanne Elias, Membership Svcs Assistant; relias@yeu.ca

Deborah Turner-Davis, Communications: dturner-davis@yeu.ca Laura Hureau, Executive Director; lhureau@yeu.ca

Yukon Employees’ Union Office, 2285 2nd Avenue Whitehorse YT Y1A 1C9 PH: 867-667-2331 Fax: 867-667-6521 Toll Free: 1-888-YEU-2331 Email contact@yeu.ca Visit www.yeu.ca, follow us on Facebook & Twitter & visit our blog; www.theunionbillboard.com Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm.

YEU NEWS September 2017