City claims union's proposal would amount to 4.79% Yellowknife property tax hike

The City of Yellowknife says the union's proposal on wage and other benefit increases would amount to an additional $1.65M over what had been budgeted for.

In a press release Friday afternoon the city said it would need to raise property taxes to accommodate union

"I support my bargaining team sign," with people milling around.
Strikers on the picket line outside Yellowknife City Hall Friday. Unionized workers have been on strike since Wednesday. The city now says the union's wage and benefit proposal amounts to a 4.79% property tax hike. (Walter Strong/CBC)

In a press release Friday afternoon the City of Yellowknife outlined what it said the cost of the union's wage and other demands would amount to.

On Thursday, an internal memo outlined the union's latest demands, including a five per cent wage increase effective Jan. 1, 2022, and a three per cent wage increase effective Jan. 1 of this year, among other things. 

The city now says the union's proposal amounts to more than $1.65 million dollars over what has already been budgeted for 2023. The city also says this would be equivalent to a 4.79 per cent property tax increase.

"The city is legally required to have a balanced budget every year," the city's statement reads. "Spending more means the city either needs to increase revenues by raising property taxes and fees, or cutting programs and services. Unlike other governments that can run deficit budgets (such as the GNWT), the City cannot add additional costs for wages & benefits in our overall expenditures without an impact."

In an emailed statement, Gayla Thunstrom, the president of the Union of Northern Workers, did not address the numbers provided by the city. But she did say the union was disappointed with the city's decision to discuss the contents of a memo leaked to the CBC in public.

"We are very disappointed that the employer has decided to publicly publish and discuss details of internal union communications, that had been leaked to the media, on the city's website media advisory," Thunstrom said.

"The union has stated from the beginning that our members are not looking to bargain in the media, and our bargaining team continues to focus on and prepare for the next round of mediation on Monday."

About 205 unionized city of Yellowknife employees have been on strike since last Wednesday.

The city and the union are scheduled to resume negotiations Monday.