BCGEU member James Swank 'soars' into retirement

Component 17 proudly recognizes local 1703 member James Swank and his nearly 33 years working at BC Place.

Swank retired on March 31, 2016 from a variety of positions. While hired in 1983 as part of BC Place’s maintenance crew, Swank served in many roles over the years. He handled telecommunications services, video and audio services with the public address system, maintenance and repairs on the display systems and video board.

He also earned two additional certificates to add to the technical diploma he earned at BCIT in the early 1980s. Swank also became a certified electrician and trained as an inspector on fire alarm and sprinkler systems.

Swank was part of the organizing committee that brought BC Place into the BCGEU during the late 1980s. He served as a steward and local representative before becoming a member of the BCGEU’s provincial executive for component 17.

What he’ll miss about BC Place are his co-workers and the friends he made through the union.

“We always had a lot of fun. It’s been a crazy place, but it was a great bunch of people I worked with. I recognize how valuable those relationships are. We always stuck together. We always knew we have to be involved in the union because we are the BCGEU. I have so many wonderful friendships and connections within the BCGEU. Those relationships you have stick with you. They won’t disappear just because I’ve retired.”

Retirement hasn’t slowed him down. Swank is building a house near Grand Forks. He also plans to spend more time in his vintage glider, a hobby he and his wife took up in 1991. Next year, he plans a backpacking trek from Hope to Grand Forks, through Manning Park and other wilderness areas.

“I have so many interests. That’s why I made the decision to retire early.”

Swank will be missed. BC Place colleague and component 17 vice president Dave MacDonald said Swank made many important contributions to the BCGEU membership and his worksite. Swank, he said, was instrumental in getting anti-bullying language into the BC Place collective agreement and standing up for bullied workers on the job. As well, he was a strong advocate for pink shirt day activities and awareness in the component and the rest of the union.

We wish Swank well in his retirement and thank him for years of service to BCGEU members and BC Place customers.