Internal memo outlines Yellowknife union demands, including 5% wage increase

An internal memo to striking city of Yellowknife workers obtained by the CBC outlines the union’s demands.

Union executives say city of Yellowknife 'spinning a story' around job action

Figures in dim blue light, orange signs, steaming building.
Striking workers picket Yellowknife City Hall early Wednesday morning, the first day of a municipal strike in the capital. (Hilary Bird/CBC)

An internal memo to striking city of Yellowknife workers obtained by the CBC outlines the union's demands. The memo was sent out at about 2:37 Thursday afternoon. CBC has confirmed its authenticity with multiple sources. 

It outlines the union's latest proposal: a 5 per cent wage increase effective Jan. 1, 2022, and a 3 per cent wage increase effective Jan. 1 of this year. This includes retroactive payment to members for all hours worked during that time.

This is the first time the details of the union's wage demands have been made public.

Other requests include a $1,000 signing bonus payable to all employees "on strength on the date of ratification"; a monthly vacation travel allowance increase to $400 per month from $333.33; two additional days of leave with pay "for reasons of a personal nature" per year; and other concessions around medical travel, a formal discussion on introducing "Christmas Shutdown" or Donnie Days, and the introduction of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a paid holiday.

The memo is signed by members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada local 345 executive team.

In the preamble to the details of the union's proposal, the executive team takes issue with the city's characterization of the union as having walked away from the bargaining table.

Bundled up person with yellow sign.
A Yellowknife worker stands in -29 C temperatures on Wednesday morning, the first day of a city-wide municipal strike in the capital. (Hilary Bird/CBC)

"The city has been spinning a story in the media that we walked away from the table on Tuesday and that they were ready to respond to our last offer," the memo reads. "To be clear, the city told us that day that whatever they came back with, [they] would not move on wages at all."

The memo continues to say the city has offered no detailed counter offer, nor has the city reached out to the union's negotiator to ask for the union's return to the table.

No one from the city was immediately available for comment on the content of the memo, but earlier Thursday the city distributed a statement to media that contradicts the memo.

According to the press release, city staff "remains committed to returning to the negotiating table at any time and have asked the union to set a date," and the "city has a counter-offer to share."

Previously, the city had offered a wage increase of two per cent, while the union said it wanted more given the level of inflation in Yellowknife is about seven per cent.

Unionized Yellowknife city workers have been on strike since midnight Tuesday. The strike followed notice that the city would lock workers out starting at 5 a.m. Wednesday. 


Walter Strong is an assignment producer with CBC News in Yellowknife. Reach him at

With files from Sidney Cohen