January 21, 2019

BCGEU calls for public inquiry into organized crime, opioids and money launde...

BCGEU calls for public inquiry into organized crime, opioids and money laundering in B.C.
January 21, 2019
BURNABY – Today the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) launched a campaign calling on the provincial government to launch a public inquiry into organized crime, opioids and money laundering in B.C. The campaign follows the union's call for an inquiry and subsequent letter to government in December 2018.
Following the collapse of the E-Pirate investigation – a RCMP money laundering probe that started in 2015 – a public inquiry is the best way to learn the truth about a crisis that has claimed thousands of lives, and has made B.C. the most unaffordable province to live in.
Neither Attorney General David Eby nor Premier Horgan have ruled out the possibility of calling for a public inquiry into the crisis, and the BCGEU is hoping that public support will push the government to act on this vital issue.
"The links between organized crime, fentanyl and money laundering leading to skyrocketing real estate prices in B.C. cannot go unexamined," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "British Columbians deserve answers so that those responsible can be held accountable, but also so we can take meaningful action to safeguard our communities from further harm."
The effects of this multi-layered crisis have reached every corner of the province and have impacted the union's members in a number of ways. BCGEU members from health care, social services, libraries, and casinos to deputy sheriffs and correctional officers have been thrust into first responder roles on the frontlines of the opioid crisis. In response to this situation, the BCGEU launched a province-wide education and training initiative in 2017: Stop the Fentanyl Crisis
At their 2017 convention, BCGEU members passed multiple resolutions calling for action on the housing affordability crisis as well. In response, the union launched its Affordable BC campaign in late 2017 with particular focus on the issues affecting urban centres like Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna.
"Our union has been working hard to support members as they face the challenges of both the opioid and housing crises, but it's time to take the next step. We need to have a public inquiry," says Smith. "Together, we can, and we must put a stop to this and restore the rule of law in our province."
The union's campaign asks the public to sign a petition to show Premier Horgan that they support an inquiry into organized crime, opioids, and money laundering in B.C.
For more information contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications, communications@bcgeu.ca.


January 10, 2019

BCGEU Statement on RCMP raid at Unist'ot'en Camp and Gidimt’en Access Point -...

BURNABY - The BCGEU has been closely monitoring the developing situation at the Unist'ot'en camp. As a trade union committed to supporting the full implementation of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the recommendations of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we are concerned that police action has been used to suppress the rights of both peaceful protesters and the media.

We urge the RCMP, Coastal Gaslink and the provincial government to work with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary leadership and the elected council to resolve the current dispute in the spirit of the principles articulated in those documents.

The Wet'suwet'en people have inherent Indigenous rights and title that must be recognized and respected. What happens at the Unist'ot'en camp could have lasting repercussions for generations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous British Columbians.

The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in B.C. with over 77,000 members across the province working in every sector of the economy.

For more information contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications, communications@bcgeu.ca



December 20, 2018

BCGEU disappointed by defeat of electoral reform referendum - BCGEU

The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is disappointed by Election BC's announcement today that the 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform was defeated. Despite this result, over half a million British Columbians voted for change due to a deep dissatisfaction with First Past the Post (FPTP), and the conversation about a more representative voting system must continue.

Under FPTP more and more people have been tuning out of our electoral system and since 1983, voter turnout has fallen nearly 20 per cent. Less than 50 per cent of millennials currently vote and as this group starts to make up more of the electorate, we could see FPTP elections drawing less than 50 per cent participation. This is not only bad for our democracy, it stifles new ideas and innovation and puts British Columbia's future prosperity at risk.

In 2017 the BCGEU asked its members for their input about changes to the voting system and the upcoming referendum on electoral reform. 90 per cent indicated they were in favour of modernizing our electoral system and switching to proportional representation. Many BCGEU members took part in a year-long campaign for electoral reform in their communities and workplaces, engaging with their family, friends, and coworkers.

In total, 533,518 British Columbians or 39% voted in favour of changing the system to proportional representation following the largest public consultation in B.C. history. Unfortunately, the government-funded proponent campaign failed to reach a broad public audience that may have been receptive to supporting electoral reform, contributing to the defeat today.

Representing over 77,000 B.C. workers, the BCGEU is one of the largest member-run democratic organizations in the province with a wealth of experience in making sure that all voices are heard in decision-making. As such, the union will continue to advocate for fair elections and more direct participation in our democracy on behalf of our members, and all working people.


December 20, 2018

BCGEU HQ closed – Dec 21st - BCGEU

Due to a power failure, the BCGEU Headquarters in Burnaby will continue to be closed for the remainder of the day on December 21, 2018.


We expect that the office will re-open on Monday, December 24. If power has not been restored by then, a subsequent notice will be posted here.



December 19, 2018

The Provincial magazine - Winter 2018 - BCGEU

The winter issue of The Provincial magazine is now available to download. Featured in this issue:

· Local government elections

· Wildfire health risks

· C-6 workers meet minister

· $10-a-day childcare

· Casino bargaining

· Willow Manor worksite profile

· Housing and young workers

· And more…

Download the Winter 2018 issue here


December 12, 2018

BCGEU welcomes the provincial government's Rental Housing Task Force report a...

In July 2018 the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) made a submission to the provincial government's Rental Housing Task Force recommending measures to expand and better protect the supply of rental housing in the province. Today, the Task Force released its report and 23 policy recommendations that will help to improve life for tenants in B.C.

The BCGEU's submission focused on three main areas: resourcing and reforming the Residential Tenancy Branch; reforming residential tenancy law and regulations; and increasing the supply of affordable rental housing.

In today's report, the union is pleased to see a recommendation to empower the Residential Tenancy Branch to be more responsive, accessible and proactive in meeting the needs of renters as well as recommendations to stop renovictions and speed up the return of damage deposits. However, the BCGEU is disappointed the report does not move forward on important issues like vacancy control which applies existing rent control policies to new tenants as well as existing ones, adequately addressing rental supply, and implementing a land value capture tax across the province.

In the coming days, the BCGEU will conduct an in-depth analysis of the report, particularly to examine recommendations relative to the union's report Building an Affordable B.C., co-authored by CUPE 1767 President Jared Melvin and Vice President Harpinder Sandhu.

View the BCGEU's submission to the Rental Housing Task Force here: https://www.affordablebc.ca/rental_housing_task_force_submission
View the report Building an Affordable B.C. here: https://www.affordablebc.ca/our-plan
The BCGEU is one of the largest and most diverse unions in British Columbia, representing over 77,000 members across the province.


December 12, 2018

Casino workers negotiate new contracts - BCGEU

(Burnaby/New Westminster) Over 1,200 members of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) working at Gateway's Grand Villa Casino in Burnaby and Starlight Casino in New Westminster voted to accept new collective agreements putting them among the highest paid casino workers in the province.
"These workers stuck together to set the industry standard," said BCGEU Treasurer Paul Finch.
"Our members told Gateway they needed to do better this time and, in the end, they achieved solid contracts with significant wage increases and many other ground-breaking provisions."
The four-year contracts include a weighted average of 15 percent wage increases over the life of the agreement with some of the lowest-paid workers receiving over 20 percent increases.
"In this round, the bargaining committee prioritized lifting wages for lower-paid workers," said Finch.
"With the cost of living rising amid a housing crisis across the province it is vital that employers, especially in the highly-profitable casino sector, pay wages that allow all their employees to live where they work."
The contracts also include improvements to sick leave, a benefits plan for part-time employees, accommodations and leave for victims of domestic violence and a new process to deal with abuse from patrons.
"There is still a lot of work to do. Many casino workers do not have a union and some are paid close to minimum wage with uncertain and unfair working conditions," said Finch. 
BCGEU represents over 800 workers at Gateway's Grand Villa Casino and over 450 at Starlight Casino. BCGEU members work in table games, as slot attendants, cashiers, in the count room, kitchen, restaurants, security, guest services and maintenance.


December 11, 2018

BCGEU presents member’s recommendations to the National Inquiry into missing ...

Tomorrow, I will proudly represent the 77,000 members of the BCGEU at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls. We are the only union in Canada to have legal standing at the Inquiry and I'll be sharing your recommendations directly with the commissioners.

My journey here to Ottawa began on the convention floor in 2014 when a resolution was passed to call for a national inquiry and then reaffirmed in 2017 with a number of resolutions that guided your union to participate and to ensure that the Inquiry is extensive, authentic, complete.

Since 2016, the Inquiry has heard from hundreds of families and loved ones of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, national and grassroots organizations, experts and researchers. Tomorrow, they will hear from you and the thousands of working people in our province that work every day to provide support and services to Indigenous women and girls.

I am humbled and honoured to share our report Naut'sa mawt sqwaluwun: Working together with one mind and one heart, which I will be presenting as part of your union's recommendations to the National Inquiry.

In 2018, we held a series of facilitated dialogues in Victoria, Prince George and Vancouver with members from diverse sectors who shared their experiences, wisdom and their hopes for the future. I wanted to hear about what is working, what is not working in our workplaces and our communities to inform this report and our recommendations to the commissioners.

We heard stories from communities that have faced heartbreak and front-line workers that are stretched to the brink. But we also heard of emerging solutions and innovative work that is happening on the ground to find solutions to uplift Indigenous women and girls.

Naut'sa mawt sqwaluwun: Working together with one mind and one heart, is a direct result of those dialogues with members. Every page of this report is filled with your courage and commitment.

I want to also give a special acknowledgement to Keith Cameron, the union's Aboriginal Liaison, who has built relationships with Indigenous allies and friends that are so critical to continue the hard work of reconciliation.

You can watch my presentation to the National Inquiry live on CPAC tomorrow, December 11th at 12:30 PT.

I will be bringing all of you with me to the inquiry and as we continue together on this journey of understanding, healing, hope and reconciliation.

In solidarity,


Stephanie Smith

BCGEU President



Your union is committed to building a better future for Indigenous communities in British Columbia. As part of this commitment, we support:

Illustration by Avril Orloff


December 10, 2018

BCGEU commends report calling for overhaul of system to support children with...

The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) commends the report Alone and Afraid: Lessons learned from the ordeal of a child with special needs and his family released by the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) today, and their 11 recommendations to overhaul British Columbia's system of services to support children with complex needs.

The report details the difficult and heartbreaking story of one child with special needs that went virtually "unseen" by the care system for years and suffered profound neglect as a result. The Representative calls on the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, to resolve the systemic failures that led to this case – and to help prevent other families from enduring a similar experience.

The report recognizes the challenges faced by front-line social workers and that "their ability to conduct their duties is only as strong as the resources available to them." This statement aligns with the BCGEU's ongoing work to advocate for increased resources and support for social workers who face untenable workloads in the sector.

"Chronic staffing shortages and workload pressures within MCFD and among front-line social workers have led to dysfunction in the care system for too long" says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "We must commit the resources necessary to support those providing care in order to protect vulnerable children and youth. The BCGEU formed a Joint Working Group with MCFD in 2014 following a recommendation made in an earlier RCY report, and we welcome the opportunity to work with the ministry to take action on the findings in today's report."

The need for a service delivery model that enables information-sharing between service providers, as well as culturally appropriate supports for Indigenous children in care, a service the BCGEU has long advocated for, are also highlighted by the Representative.

Read the RCY report:

Alone and Afraid: Lessons learned from the ordeal of a child with special needs and his family

Read related BCGEU reports:

Closing the Circle (2015)

Choose Children (2014)