Yellowknife says union left bargaining Monday without responding to latest offer

Yellowknife says talks with its unionized workers to end a lockout ended Monday when it says the union “chose to end bargaining” at 6 p.m. and left the table without responding to its latest offer.

Talks between the city and the Union of Northern Workers had been planned for Sunday but the union said they had to be postponed due to the mediator’s flights being delayed.

The city says in a news release it added a one-time inflation adjustment and signing bonuses to its earlier offer of base wage increases of two per cent per year for 2022 and 2023.

The union, according to the city, had been seeking a five per cent raise in 2022 and three per cent in 2023, along with other perks that included an $800 per year increase to vacation travel assistance.

Workers with the City of Yellowknife hit the picket lines last week and the city locked out employees early last Wednesday after mediation between the parties failed.

The union could not be immediately reached for comment on Monday’s talks.

“The City is committed to negotiating a collective agreement that is fair, respects the important role City employees play in Yellowknife, and is affordable for Yellowknife’s residents and businesses,” the city’s statement on Monday said.

“The City remains available and ready to resume bargaining.”

In a news release from the union on Friday, it said its bargaining team was hopeful that when the two sides met, the city would be “willing to actually discuss wages, which they have refused to do up until now.”

The city said last week that the union’s offer totalled an additional $1,646,345 on top of what was already budgeted for in 2023, which it said would equal an additional 4.79 per cent property tax increase.

The previous collective agreement between the city and the union expired at the end of 2021.

The city has said a work stoppage would see the closure of the public library, pool, community arena and dump to the public, as well as the reduction of other services. Emergency services, including fire and ambulance, were to continue.

Collective bargaining between the parties broke down late last year and they entered conciliation, and the workers voted to strike last month.

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