May 11, 2018

Hard Rock Casino workers strike for fairness - BCGEU

Strike kicks off with rally at Hard Rock 

(Coquitlam, May 11, 2018) - Members of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) working at Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam are walking off the job Friday morning, in their escalating efforts to get fair wages, benefits and respect at work. 

Hundreds of workers and supporters will gather for a rally in front of the casino at 2073 Hartley Ave, Coquitlam at 1:30 P.M. on Friday afternoon. 

Negotiations and mediation for a first contract failed after both parties were too far apart on a number of issues including wages, benefits and hours of work.

"Many of the employees at Hard Rock haven't had a wage increase in over 10 years," said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU. "Wages have not kept up with the rising cost of living and now a large number of workers are working two or three jobs and still struggling to get by."

Smith continued, "it's totally unacceptable for a successful company in the highly profitable casino industry not to pay a decent, living wage to the workers who ensure their success."

Hard Rock Casino Vancouver is owned by Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. Great Canadian announced, earlier this week, a 62% increase in revenue this quarter over the same period last year.

Employees at Hard Rock voted to join the BCGEU in May 2016 and have been trying to negotiate a first collective agreement with their employer since January 2017. When they reached impasse earlier this year, 99.5% of Hard Rock workers voted in favour of strike action.

Aside from improved wages, Hard Rock workers are also looking for improved health benefits, a more stable pension plan and fairness in scheduling and hours of work.

"We're looking for language that prevents Hard Rock management from forcing workers to go home early," said Smith. "How can a person budget when they can't count on working a full shift?"

BCGEU represents over 400 staff at Hard Rock working in table games, as slot attendants, cashiers, in the count room, kitchen, security, theatre and guest services. 

For more information, contact Erin Sikora at 778-238-0300.



May 10, 2018

BCGEU and BC Government exchange bargaining proposals - BCGEU



The first week of public service bargaining wrapped up in Victoria after the BCGEU exchanged bargaining packages with the employer. Component agreement bargaining took place from April 23 – 27. Component agreements cover occupational terms and conditions. Issues unresolved at component bargaining tables were tabled at the main public service table, by agreement with the employer. 

BCGEU bargaining proposals were developed following extensive consultation with members through proposals submitted by union locals, online surveys and a bargaining conference in November of last year. The proposals were reviewed by the union's Public Service Bargaining Committee and prioritized for inclusion in the bargaining package.

Our proposals cover a range of issues around compensation-particularly with respect to recruitment, retention, and market comparison; they also address the need for new language around issues like workload, bullying and harassment protections and auxiliary conversion among others; and we will be pushing for legislative and regulatory changes outside the scope of the collective agreement that would improve how public services are delivered. 

"After four years, we're seeing a pent-up demand to address a number of outstanding issues," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "We have tabled a robust package of proposals that reflect our members' priorities."

 Negotiations are scheduled to resume next week in Vancouver as the union and employer continue detailed discussions of specific proposals.



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May 10, 2018

Who Decides for BC? - BCGEU

It's time to bring environmental decision-making back to the public interest.

A Natural Resource Officer, tasked with stewarding our forests, without the tools needed to address forest practices until it is too late. An ecologist with serious concerns that an industry-paid biologist's plans will compromise the proper functioning of a stream's ecosystem, and no forum to stop it.

These are just two of the concerns that BCGEU members like you shared directly with the provincial government as part of a formal review of the 'Professional Reliance' system. In the BCGEU's written submission to the review this January, and an in-person meeting with the review team in March, the BCGEU has weighed in to share our members' stories, and pushed for changes to environmental laws to make sure decisions are made in the best interest of all British Columbians. 

For the past 15 years, the provincial government has increasingly used professional reliance and deferred to industry-paid professionals including biologists, archaeologists, engineers and environmental scientists to conduct studies, monitor activities and more. Combined with deep cuts to the public service, this system has meant that government decision-making has been largely turned over to private professionals, who are working for the best interest of their clients, not the public interest. Overall, public confidence in environmental and natural resource management in BC has been seriously eroded. 

The provincial government heard from thousands of citizens, stakeholders and qualified professionals during its consultation period, including many of you who shared your stories and concerns about the oversight of our environment and natural resources. 

A final report with recommendations will be released to the public soon, and then the provincial government will decide how to respond. We need to keep up the pressure, and make sure our local MLAs understand the pressing need for change!

The BCGEU has joined forces with a broad coalition of groups including the Professional Employees Association, Evidence for Democracy, Organizing for Change, Ecojustice, the BC Wildlife Federation and the Fraser Watershed Initiative to make sure the recommendations from the Professional Reliance policy review are put into action.

It's time to bring environmental decision-making back to the public interest. You can add your voice by encouraging action by your decision-maker in a tailored message here:


May 08, 2018

Public service bargaining commences in Victoria - BCGEU



Bargaining representatives from the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) and the B.C. Government Public Service Agency (BC PSA) are meeting today in Victoria to exchange bargaining proposals and begin four weeks of negotiations to achieve a new collective agreement.

"We're pleased to begin the bargaining process early," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "It gives us sufficient time before our agreements expire to address some of the long-standing issues that we've been raising with government for the past four years."

"We've been preparing for a return to bargaining since late last year, consulting with our members through surveys, conferences and bargaining meetings. We've given ourselves time to review the complex range of issues and prepare bargaining proposals that reflect the priorities of our membership."

"Undoing 16 years of eroded government services won't be easy. But we have a unique opportunity to go to the bargaining table early and take the time to canvass important issues, like addressing recruitment and retention challenges, rebuilding child protection services, improving conditions for social workers and increasing staff resources for our justice system."

Public service components began negotiating component agreements on April 30, 2018, with public service agreement negotiations beginning May 7, 2018 and scheduled to continue for four weeks.

Over the course of the next 18 months, nearly 85 per cent of BCGEU members, in multiple sectors, will also be at the bargaining table, negotiating renewed collective agreements.



Your Public Service Bargaining Committee:

Stephanie Smith, President
Kari Michaels, Executive Vice President 
Doug Dykens, Director
Mike Eso, Secretary
Dean Purdy, Corrections & Sheriff Services component, Vice President
Kusam Doal, Retail Stores and Warehouses component, Vice President 
Judy Fox-McGuire, Social, Information and Health component, Vice President
Maria Middlemiss, Administrative Services component, Vice President
Matt Damario, Administrative Services component, first Vice Chairperson
George Buis, Environmental Technical and Operational component, Vice President

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May 07, 2018

It's time to reinvest in the services that support British Columbians - BCGEU

BURNABY – Today, and in the weeks ahead, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) will begin negotiating new contracts for more than 53,000 members in the public service, health sectors and community social services. 

"We're ready," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Beginning negotiations today gives us the time we need to address long-standing issues we've been raising with government over the past four years."

That starts by acknowledging the diverse cross-section of workers who, collectively, provide the foundation for services and supports that British Columbians depend on. "Frankly, without them, this province just wouldn't work," Smith said.

In that spirit, the union launched its "thanks to them" campaign-a series of video vignettes showcasing the broad and impressive scope of work performed by BCGEU members. The campaign website,, creates a platform for British Columbians to express their appreciation for the dedicated workers throughout B.C.'s public service, health and community social service sectors. Videos will appear province-wide on television and social media in the weeks ahead. 

"BCGEU members are invested in the work they do, and they're passionate about the quality, accessibility and responsiveness of the services they provide to families, businesses and communities across B.C.," said Smith. "Our members know, as citizens and residents themselves, that we all have a stake in our province's continued prosperity. So, with 'thanks to them,' we're asking other British Columbians to take a moment to recognize and reflect on our workers, and to show that we all have a stake in them too."

"B.C. is a special place to live, and we know protecting that means reinvesting in our public, health and community social services," observed Smith. "It also means recognizing that it's time to reinvest in our workers-to stand behind them in support and with appreciation. That's why we're saying, 'Thanks to them'." 

Public service bargaining begins on May 7. Negotiations in both health and community social services start May 14. Collective agreements between the BCGEU and the B.C. government expire on March 31, 2019. The union prepared for negotiations, as it routinely does, through broad consultation with its membership, including surveys, meetings and bargaining conferences, to identify key priorities. 

The BCGEU is British Columbia's most diverse union, representing over 75,000 workers in the private sector and public services. 




May 07, 2018

BCGEU observes North American Occupational Safety and Health Week - BCGEU

The BC Government and Service Employees' Union joins occupational health and safety advocates and governments across the continent in observing North American Occupational Safety and Health Week (NAOSH), which is observed from May 6-12 and will be commemorated in events across North America.

NAOSH Week was first launched in 1997, after the government of Canada, United States and Mexico signed an agreement to officially recognize and promote the event. The agreement was taken to the NAFTA negotiation table in 1996, when NAOSH was officially established.

The goal of Safety and Health Week is to focus the attention of employers, employees, partners and the public on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home and in the community.

Throughout its history, the BCGEU has worked hard to protect its members from injury, illness and death on the job. Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is an important issue for the union.

The cornerstone of good health and safety practice in British Columbia is the joint Occupational Health and Safety committee, which have been established in workplaces across the province. BCGEU OHS representatives help prevent injuries and illness and save lives.

Join us in recognizing the important work of occupational health and safety in our workplaces. Click here to find an event to commemorate North American Occupational Safety and Health Week in your community:


April 30, 2018

Provincial Magazine – Spring 2018 - BCGEU

The digital version of the Spring 2018 issue of The Provincial is available to download online. In this issue:

  • BC Budget 2018
  • BC Cannabis retail program
  • Public Service Pension Plan changes
  • Community Social Services bargaining
  • Affordable BC campaign
  • Organizing news
  • Events and more…

Download the Spring 2018 issue (PDF)


April 26, 2018

New conservation officers provide greater protection for B.C. environment - B...

The swearing in of new conservation officers on the steps of the B.C. legislature demonstrates a commitment by the B.C. government to increase protection for our natural environment, the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) said today.

"The B.C. government's commitment to hire new conservation officers is good news that will ensure higher levels of compliance and enforcement with a positive impact on our environment and the economy," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Our environment and natural resource sector continues to need significant new investment to reverse the decades-long erosion of services."

The 20 new conservation officers will begin training at the Western Conservation Law Enforcement Academy in May 2018 and upon graduation will be deployed around the province. 

The new recruits will fill new and vacant positions and areas where retirements are expected. The hiring will bring the total number of employees with conservation officer designation to 160 province-wide.

Click to see more swearing-in photos on the BCGEU Flikr site


April 25, 2018

Message from BCGEU vice president of administrative services component Maria ...

The best laid plans … often go awry.
We administrative professionals are great organizers and planners, aren't we? That's why, as your vice president for administrative services at the BCGEU, Administrative Services Day is never far from my mind. This is the day we recognize the valuable and vital service we in the BCGEU's Administrative Services Component provide to British Columbians and their communities, which this year is on April 25th. 
I always look forward to visiting worksites to thank you for your hard work and dedication. Here's where my plans for 2018 have gone awry. I won't be able to call on worksites this Administrative Services Day, but, there's a very good reason for my absence.
As you may have heard, the B.C. Government has called us back to the bargaining table one year before our existing contract expires at the end of March 2019. This early start will give us sufficient time to address the long-standing issues we've been raising with government in the four years since we negotiated our last contract. Our hope is to improve services through the bargaining process.
I'll be on the bargaining committee, sitting at the negotiating table, putting forward your issues and proposed improvements to the collective agreement. I'm looking forward to it.
So, while you won't be seeing me, other members of your Component and union executive will be by to meet many of you in your places of work, and we hope that you take the time to celebrate with us.
Best wishes for Administrative Services week. Workplaces couldn't function without you and the recognition is well earned!

In solidarity,

Maria Middlemiss

Click here to view message from the BCGEU.