As you know, your Yukon Government workers' bargaining team met with the employer for conciliation meetings the week of July 19th.
While negotiations progressed and considerable time was spent on critical incident leave and the Respectful Workplace Office, to date nothing new has been signed off or finalized on that front.
We believe the Government of Yukon is in agreement with the Union that the policies and practices of the Respectful Workplace Office cannot continue unchanged, and that there will be important changes to how the employer deals with human rights complaints in the future.
We made progress on a number of other outstanding items and have narrowed the list of outstanding issues, however there are a number of priorities still unresolved. These include (but are not limited to) severance, wages and benefits.
We are working to finalize dates for our next set of talks but due to scheduling constraints, those will be held later this year.
The employer wants to end the accumulation of severance pay for voluntary departure.
We fought them at the last round of bargaining and we're still fighting. In 2019 when the employer tried to eliminate severance pay, a member survey garnered hundreds of responses from workers for whom this was an extremely important issue. Holding on to severance pay is still extremely important to you, and the bargaining team is holding firm.
Current severance provisions:
Severance is like a deferred long-term savings plan. It is in place to financially support members when they voluntarily make transitions from YG to other situations (retirement and resignation) or involuntary situations like being laid off. For every year you work, you will have one week of pay set aside for you to a maximum of 30 weeks of pay.
The value of your severance is 1 week of pay for each year of your service.* (article 19)
It is, in effect, an additional 1.9% that is set aside annually for you by the employer and it continues to accumulate year over year
So, if you work for the government for six years, six weeks of severance is set aside for you - ten years, ten weeks of severance pay is set aside for you and so on.
It's likely that you will be at a higher pay level when you leave the government than when you started; severance will be paid out at the rate of pay you have achieved at the time of your departure.
The monetary "value" of severance varies considerably from person to person depending on your years of service, your career plan, and the conditions under which you might expect to take severance pay.
In the case of voluntary departure for whatever reason, severance is intended to bridge the financial gap that occurs between the conclusion of your job with the government and whatever comes next for you, such as a return to school, a career change, or awaiting your pension upon retirement.
What has YG proposed?
Stop the accumulation of severance for voluntary departures (resignation, retirement) effective December 31, 2021. There will be no more accumulation of severance except for layoffs.
The bargaining team does not agree with this initial government proposal. Losing voluntary severance will result in a financial loss affecting ALL members now and in the future, in different ways.
The loss of severance will create two classes of employees – those who have severance and those who will never have the opportunity to accumulate it for voluntary departure (resignation and retirement). The loss of severance reduces options for career planning and retirement flexibility.
All employees with a year or more of service at December 31, 2021 would keep the severance pay accrued to date, but would never earn more for resignation or retirement purposes.
Current employees with less than five years of service as of December 31, 2021 would not be eligible for severance payout if they resign.
If you are laid off, severance would be payable.
In these inflationary times, YG has not offered any sufficiently attractive financial alternative to make up for this loss.
We appreciate all the support you have shown to the Bargaining Team as negotiations continue.