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NEWS

May 29, 2024

BC’s fastest growing union kicks off leadership-defining convention - BC Gene...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 29, 2024 

BC's fastest growing union kicks off leadership-defining convention

VANCOUVER-Almost 600 delegates from across the province are gathered today for the start of the 52nd Convention of the BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU). Over the next three days at the triennial event, delegates will determine the direction of their union by voting on policy resolutions and electing a new and expanded leadership team. 

Stephanie Smith, the first woman elected president of the BCGEU, announced in January that she would not run for a fourth term. In addition to selecting a new president for the first time in ten years, delegates will elect an Equity Executive Vice President (Equity EVP), also for the first time. This new position expands the leadership team as well as reflecting the union's overall commitment to diversity and inclusion at all levels of membership.

"Our province has so much economic, cultural and social diversity, and I think we are going to see the election of a new BCGEU leadership team that is even more representative of that great diversity," said Smith. "It's an exciting opportunity to continue to build on the actions that demonstrate our union's values." 

Between the call to order on Wednesday evening and the adjournment on Saturday, delegates will hear from high profile speakers about important issues facing working people, and they will debate and decide on resolutions that cover a wide range of union, social justice and equity issues – determining the priorities and path the BCGEU will take for the next three years.

"Unions represent the best of us – as workers and as activists – because they show that we succeed not by focusing only on our own needs, but by uniting and standing beside our colleagues, allies and neighbours," said Smith. "Today I believe more strongly than ever in what's possible when good people work together and I know that our members are ready for all the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead." 

To view the convention agenda, speakers list and more, visit: https://convention.bcgeu.ca/

WHAT:
BCGEU's 52nd Constitutional Convention 

WHEN: Wednesday May 29 to Saturday June 1, 2024 

WHERE: Westin Bayshore Hotel, 1601 Bayshore Dr., Vancouver 

Media interested in attending the convention can contact Bronwen Barnett, Communications Officer, at 604-291-9611 or [email protected] 

The BCGEU is B.C.'s fastest growing union with over 90,000 members in virtually every community and economic sector in the province. 




BACKGROUNDER

Stephanie Smith 

  • Stephanie Smith was first elected BCGEU president in 2014. 
  • She first became involved in her union working as an early childhood educator. 
  • Smith has been an important leader in B.C. politics and the labour movement – from being named one of Business in Vancouver's most influential leaders to the many roles she's taken on across community organizations and alongside other public and private sector unions. 
  • In her ten years as president of the BCGEU, the fastest growing union in B.C., she oversaw countless campaigns and job actions, and she has played a significant role in the provincial and national labour movement's efforts to make life better for working people. 

Equity Executive Vice President 

  • The change in president will also happen alongside other major shifts in the wider leadership team, including the addition of a new Equity Executive Vice President (EVP) position. 
  • This new position is intended to increase representation of members from one or more equity groups – those that face systemic marginalization created by historic and ongoing, social and environmental factors. 
  • While many of the union's recent executive committee members have identified with one or more equity groups, this newly created Equity EVP position explicitly puts equity issues at the forefront of the BCGEU's agenda. 

Convention 

  • The BCGEU's Constitutional Convention is typically held every three years. 
  • Due to the pandemic, this is the union's first in-person convention since 2017.
  • Delegates come from across the province and work in every sector (direct government, broader public service, private sector, non-profit sector). 



UWU/MoveUP

May 24, 2024

CLERK – MEMBERSHIP RECORDS (Temporary) - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

BCGEU HEADQUARTERS OFFICE

INTERNAL POSTING

May 24, 2024

 
POSITION: CLERK – MEMBERSHIP RECORDS (Temporary)

GRADE: LEVEL 3 - MoveUP AGREEMENT

WAGE RATE: $35.72 - $38.51 per hour

A Clerk is required to work in the Membership Records Department, located at the BCGEU Headquarters in Burnaby, BC. Term of assignment is 3 months or return of incumbent.

DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES:

Will including input of new applications; production of cards; change/update members, steward and officer information; update dues lists; process strike pay; generate reports and labels from Unionware; processing internal and external requests and other duties as required.

QUALIFICATIONS & EXPERIENCE:

Applicants must have 2-4 years' administrative experience; high school graduation supplemented by administrative training; excellent keyboarding (40 - 50 wpm); excellent Microsoft Word and Excel skills; excellent communication, spelling and grammatical skills; an aptitude for organization and detail; good telephone manner; the ability to set priorities and work within time limits; knowledge of the BCGEU structure; knowledge of Unionware; knowledge of SQL based and relational databases.

Hours of work are 32 per week, four days.

General aptitude tests will be administered to all applicants. Keyboarding tests will be administered to regular/temporary employees who are not presently working in or have not previously worked in an administrative position.

The BCGEU supports employment equity. Indigenous workers, workers of colour, women, LGBTQ2SI+ workers, and workers with disabilities are encouraged to apply for positions with the BCGEU.

Apply in writing with resume to Jennifer Ferguson, Human Resources Administrator, Headquarters, by 5:00 pm, Thursday, May 30, 2024.

Resumes will be accepted by e-mail to: [email protected]

 

UWU/MoveUP

May 23, 2024

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT – Fraser Valley Area Office (Temporary) - BC General...

BCGEU FRASER VALLEY AREA OFFICE

INTERNAL POSTING

May 23, 2024

 

POSITION: ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT – Fraser Valley Area Office (Temporary)

 

GRADE: LEVEL 3 – MoveUP AGREEMENT

 

WAGE RATE: $35.72 - $38.51 per hour

An Administrative Assistant is required to perform administrative and word processing functions for staff representatives. This person will also be required to assist with switchboard and receptionist duties. This position is located in Langley, BC. Term of assignment is 6 months or return of incumbent.

DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES:

Will include processing a variety of documents such as letters, minutes, reports, bargaining proposals, bargaining bulletins and general correspondence; drafting correspondence, calculating calendar deadlines for grievances, notices to bargain and appeals; responding to phone calls and walk-in visitors; assisting component/local executive; coordinating, preparing and distributing material for strike/ratification votes; booking meeting rooms, travel and accommodation; prioritizing incoming mail; maintaining filing and bring forward system; and other duties as assigned.

QUALIFICATIONS & EXPERIENCE:

Applicant must have 2-4 years administrative experience; high school graduation supplemented by administrative training; excellent Microsoft Word and excel skills; keyboarding (40 - 50 wpm); switchboard experience; database experience required; an aptitude for organization and detail; good telephone manner; and the ability to set priorities and work within time limits.

Hours of work are 32 per week, four days.

General aptitude tests will be administered to all applicants. Keyboarding tests will be administered to regular/temporary employees who are not presently working in or have not previously worked in an administrative position.

The BCGEU supports employment equity. Indigenous workers, workers of colour, women, LGBTQ2SI+ workers, and workers with disabilities are encouraged to apply for positions with the BCGEU.

Apply in writing with resume to Jennifer Ferguson, Human Resources Administrator, Headquarters, by 5:00 pm, Wednesday, May 29, 2024.

Resumes will be accepted by e-mail to: [email protected]



UWU/MoveUP

May 21, 2024

BCGEU expands Cariboo Region strike, calls on the Regional District to bargai...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 21, 2024

BCGEU expands Cariboo Region strike, calls on the Regional District to bargain in good faith
 

WILLIAMS LAKE - Cariboo Regional District workers, who have been fighting for a fair contract for months, expanded their strike action this morning. Forced by the Regional District's inaction, they are now picketing the library in Williams Lake and Quesnel's City Hall.

The workers, who are members of the BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU), will be on the picket lines between 8:15 am and 4:15 pm. Media are invited to visit all striking locations, which include:

  • Quesnel: 410 Kinchant St (8:15 am to 4:00 pm)
  • 100 Mile House: Cariboo Regional District Library - 449 Birch Ave S (8:15 am to 4:00 pm)
  • Williams Lake: 180 3 Ave N Suite D (8:15 am to 4:15 pm)

"It's disappointing that the Regional District is not honouring its workers and returning to the bargaining table with a reasonable deal," says BCGEU Treasurer Paul Finch. "Our members were committed to the negotiations process from day one and exhausted every avenue to resolution, including applying for mediation. But the Regional District clung to its subpar offer, pushing members to strike."

The Regional District tried to strongarm BCGEU members into accepting wages that do not offer staff the financial security they need to continue calling the Cariboo Region home while they serve their communities with library support, waste management, fire mitigation and more. In contrast, the workers have been advocating for inflation-matching protections, which will help offset financial pressures if the Region's cost-of-living skyrockets again.

The Regional District, which is already suffering from recruitment and retention problems, needs vital improvements to working conditions; otherwise, high turnover risks destabilizing local services.

"The level of respect that a government shows for its workers is a direct reflection of the respect it has for its residents," adds Finch. "The Regional District owes it to their constituents to put more resources into the support that people count on. They owe it to their constituents to help get our members back to work by returning to the bargaining table."

BCGEU members were pushed to kick off strike action on Monday, May 13, starting with the Regional District's main office in Williams Lake, where the majority of the BCGEU members work. Since then, they've been expanding their picket lines, as the CRD has failed to come back to workers with a fair offer.

"The community support has been incredible to see," says Finch. "Between donations and kind words from neighbours, unions, a school district, and even a small business, Cariboo Region residents are rallying behind our members and their fight for a contract that will attract and retain dedicated and experienced workers in the Cariboo Region." 

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For more information, please contact: 
Celia Shea, BCGEU Communications officer, at 780-720-8122 or [email protected]



UWU/MoveUP

May 16, 2024

BCGEU Emergency Relief Fund - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

As we learn more details of the fast-moving wildfire threatening Fort Nelson, officials have placed almost 5,000 people under an evacuation order due to the wildfire affecting the Town of Fort Nelson and the Fort Nelson First Nation.

We have hundreds of members like you living and working in the area, and our thoughts are with you and your families at this uncertain time.

As one of B.C.'s largest unions, and as the union representing many of the emergency crews serving our communities like Fort Nelson, we are here to support our members and affected communities across the province.

That's why we want to make sure all BCGEU members affected by this crisis are aware of the emergency relief fund that can help you out during moments like these.

As per article 8.5 of the BCGEU's Financial Manual, emergency financial assistance may be paid to a member if a member loses their home to due to damage caused by a fire, or if they lose access to their home due to a formal evacuation order arising from a fire.

If you think you may be eligible for emergency financial assistance, please contact the BCGEU's Peace River Area Office by email: [email protected] or phone: (250) 785-6185 / 1-800-667-0788 to speak to a staff representative and receive the application form.

Please note that a completed FA-111 application form must be submitted within three months of the fire, flood or other natural disaster to receive payment, which will be made directly by your component. Applicants must be full or life BCGEU members as noted in constitution and bylaws articles 4.1 and 4.4.

For updates and current conditions including highway closures and evacuation orders, more information will be available through Emergency Info BC.

Please feel free to get in touch with us should you have any issues with your employer during this time.



UWU/MoveUP

May 14, 2024

Survey: Workplace Violence & Harassment - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

Violence and harassment at work is a major problem in Canada, and a major concern for BCGEU members. To prevent and respond to this problem, we need to develop effective strategies based on data from workers like you. 

With the help of researchers at Western University, our union is surveying all 90,000+ members about experiences of violence and harassment in our workplaces. Will you complete the survey now? 

To complete the survey in English, please go to:
https://uwo.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0eLoQ7LKP6IAaz4?Q_CHL=qr

Your decision to complete this survey will be taken as informed consent to participate in the research.

Frequently Asked Questions
 
Q: What will the survey ask me?
A: A series of questions about violence and harassment in your workplace.
 
Q: Who will have access to my answers and information if I participate?
A: Your participation is voluntary, confidential and anonymous. Unless you choose to tell them, no one, including your employer, supervisor, co-worker, or union representatives, will know whether you have completed the survey. Your survey responses will be collected anonymously through a secure online survey platform called Qualtrics. Qualtrics uses encryption technology and restricted access authorizations to protect all data collected. The data will then be exported from Qualtrics and securely stored on Western University's server.
 
Q: Who should/is eligible to complete this survey?
A: All BCGEU members who are 18 years of age or older and have been employed in the past 12 months – regardless if you've personally experienced or witnessed violence and harassment, you should still complete this survey.
 
Q: How much time do I have to complete the survey?
A: Completing the survey will take about 10-15 minutes. The survey will close June 14, 2024.
 
Q: How can I help promote this survey to my colleagues?
A: Consider printing this poster and posting on your worksite's union board. Thank you!
 
This research is a priority of BCGEU members. It's an important first step to improving policies and procedures to respond to the problem of violence and harassment in BCGEU workplaces and to provide support and assistance for workers experiencing violence or harassment. Your help is very much appreciated.
 
In solidarity,
 
Stephanie Smith
President



UWU/MoveUP

May 13, 2024

Cariboo Region District workers form picket line in Williams Lake - BC Genera...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 13, 2024

Cariboo Regional District workers form picket line in Williams Lake

WILLIAMS LAKE – Today (May 13), just under 50 BCGEU members who work at the Cariboo Regional District's (CRD's) main office in Williams Lake have decided to escalate their job action, moving from an overtime ban to a full strike in the fight for a fair deal.

Starting at 8:00 am, only staff whose roles fall under essential services will be reporting to work in a limited capacity. Media are invited to attend the workers' picket line from now until 5:00 pm at 180 3 Ave N, Williams Lake, BC V2G 2A4. The union says members are committed to picketing until the employer returns to the table with a fair deal:

"From waste management and library services to utilities, on to wildfire response and flood mitigation, our members do everything they can to keep the region safe and vibrant," says BCGEU Treasurer Paul Finch. "But they can only continue to work in our community if they can actually afford to call the Cariboo Region home."

In bargaining, staff have been pushing for protections that will help offset financial pressures if the Region's cost-of-living skyrockets again, reducing the risk of high staff turnover, which can destabilize local services.

"Right now, the Regional District is understaffed and rocked by high turnover," adds Finch. "It isn't fair to workers or the communities they're trying to service. Our members are striking to improve their workplace, bring stability to their jobs and fully support their neighbours."

While some service disruptions should be expected in Williams Lake starting today, picketing workers are available to respond to emergencies, as per the Essential Services Agreement that they negotiated with the Regional District.

BCGEU Members who staff the library adjacent to the Williams Lake CRD Office will continue to report to work, even though the employer closed its libraries to the public starting May 9. In Quesnel, 100 Mile House and surrounding communities, Cariboo Regional District workers will continue with their overtime ban, in solidarity with their Williams Lake coworkers and BCGEU bargaining committee.

However, if the employer is not prepared to bargain in good faith and return to the table with a revised deal that will meet locals' needs, workers at other CRD locations may need to escalate with picketing.

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For more information, please contact: Celia Shea, BCGEU Communications Officer at 780-720-8122 or [email protected]

Backgrounder:

Read the BCGEU's May 10 press release



UWU/MoveUP

May 10, 2024

Cariboo Regional District Workers Reject Employer’s Unfair Final Offer - BC ...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


May 10, 2024

Cariboo Regional District Workers Reject Employer's Unfair Final Offer  

WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. – Yesterday, local government workers, who have been bargaining with the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) since January, blocked the Regional District's attempts to ram through a deal that would have threatened the workers' financial security and risked exacerbating recruitment and retention issues.

The workers, who are unionized with the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU), cover 80,252 square kilometers in this region, providing services to Quesnel, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and other surrounding communities. Yesterday, the members voted against the employer's Final Offer, as they stand together in the fight for vital improvements required to better services that locals need. 

"From waste management and library services to utilities, on to wildfire response and flood mitigation, our members do everything they can to keep the region safe and vibrant," says BCGEU Treasurer Paul Finch. "They are truly the caretakers of the North, and in a disaster, we would be defenseless without them. But they can only continue to work in our community if they can actually afford to call the Cariboo Region home. The Regional District's Final Offer was not going to provide the financial security they need to do this." 

As it stands, many CRD departments are understaffed and overworked. The region cannot afford to lose workers, especially as wildfire season approaches. "How can our members in the Emergency Operation Centre keep their communities safe if they don't have proper staffing?" says Finch. "This work is stressful enough – being denied vital resources to do the work doesn't help."

In bargaining, the CRD workers have been fighting for critical language that would help offset financial pressures if the Region's cost-of-living skyrockets again, reducing the risk of high staff turnover, which can destabilize local services. "The Cariboo Region needs community-supporting collective agreements to attract and retain skilled and passionate people," says Finch. 

Talks first hit a wall when the CRD tried strongarming members into accepting unacceptable cuts to disability-benefits. A successful strike vote pushed the employer to stand down from the cuts, but they wouldn't meet members in the middle on compensation, refusing inflation-matching protections, forcing the BCGEU members to serve 72-hour strike notice on May 6. 

"Our members do not take strikes lightly, but if they're forced to picket - if that's what it takes to achieve the improvements they need to properly service the Cariboo - they will," says Finch, adding: "Residents fund the CRD. They expect their taxpayer dollars to go directly towards the services they desperately need. And they expect their neighbours who deliver those services to be treated with respect and fairness." 

Yesterday (May 9), CRD workers started limited job actions with an overtime ban as a first step in actioning their strike vote. In contrast to what the employer has been saying in the public, CRD staff are not picketing any services right now. Despite employees showing up to work, the Regional District forced staff to close libraries to the public.

BCGEU members will continue to try and bargain with the Regional District, but if the District is unwilling to offer a fair deal, members may choose to advance their strike action with picketing in the future. 
 

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For more information, contact:
Celia Shea, BCGEU Communications Officer – 780-720-8122 or [email protected] 
 



UWU/MoveUP

May 08, 2024

BC Polling shows that the housing crisis has worsened, and a majority of resi...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 8, 2024

BC Polling shows that the housing crisis has worsened, and a majority of residents confirm that all levels of government need to enact further measures to fix it  

Support for regulation and public investment in housing remains strong

BURNABY – An updated Research Co. poll shows that as the housing crisis worsened over the last two years, support for progressive policies to advance affordability in BC remained strong, sending a powerful message to governments that a real affordability plan is urgently needed.
 
Commissioned by the BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) as part of its Affordable BC Campaign, this week's poll (a follow-up to a 2022 poll) found that half of renters and homeowners are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on shelter. This number is up 11 per cent from 2022 - a rising tide that's stratifying communities by wealth: 

  • 27 per cent of renters say they were forced to move out of their areas in the past five years because they could not afford to stay;
  • And only 17 per cent of renters say they could afford rent for a comparable home in their community if they had to end their current tenancy today. 

"These numbers reflect the underlying affordability crisis that has resulted from rising land values over the past decade," said BCGEU treasurer Paul Finch. "Without meaningful near-term regulation of land prices, rent and mortgage costs will continue to create shortages of skilled workers in the economy from nurses to trades people, and further erode quality of life."

Finch further explained, "land values are dramatically increased, often more than double, by substantive changes in zoning and public infrastructure investment. Instead of passing those windfall profits off to landowners, a portion created by public investment should be re-invested into rapid transit services and affordable housing. While we applaud the province for implementing our policy suggestions on upzoning around transit hubs, the method fails to properly capture the land value increases that have been generated."
 
The BCGEU is calling for implementation of a land value capture tax and vacancy control. Land value capture would keep land values from rising further while generating needed revenue for affordable housing and public transit. Vacancy control would tie rent to the suite rather than the tenant, an emergency measure which would help preserve some of the last affordable units left on the market. More than three in five respondents agreed that vacancy control is a must, but instead of heeding this call, the provincial government has designed policies and bills to fast-track for-profit housing, with minimal affordability requirements. 

The problem with this approach, said BCGEU executive vice-president Kari Michaels, is that "Market-driven policies don't solve the stark inequity between working people and wealthy investors. They simply maintain the province's reliance on the private market, which is exactly what created the crisis in the first place." 
 
Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of respondents confirmed that governments' housing policies have not had a positive effect on affordability in their lives over the last two years, and 73 per cent agree that the provincial government must do more to fix the housing crisis. 
 
On the BCGEU's 4-pillar policy demands, the poll's findings, include the following: 

  • 61 per cent of people in British Columbia support the policy of vacancy control; 
  • 67 per cent support stronger investments in public housing; 
  • 61 per cent support mandatory municipal inclusionary zoning policies – where a set number of below-market rate housing units are required when properties are up-zoned for development;
  • 46 per cent support land value taxation to recover and reinvest land value increases that result from public investments. 

BCGEU represents close to 90,000 working people across BC who are fighting the cost-of-living crisis by raising the bar for wages in their diverse industries. Members are also organizing their communities to push for more people-centred and creative solutions to housing unaffordability with the BCGEU Affordable BC Campaign.
  
Click here to learn more about the Affordable BC campaign.


Results are based on an online study conducted from April 29 to May 2, 2024, among 807 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error- which measures sample variability-is +/- 3.5 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Link to Factum
Link to Data Tables

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UWU/MoveUP