October 26, 2018

Recommended Changes To Provincial Labour Code A Good Start – But Don’t Go Far...

The BCGEU supports many of the recommendations put forward yesterday by the independent, three-person Labour Relations Code Review Panel appointed by Labour Minister Harry Bains earlier this year.
"Our submission to the panel asked that balance and fairness be restored to the B.C. Labour Relations Code and Labour Relations Board," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "We believe the recommendations go a long way toward achieving that balance, but they don't go far enough."

The BCGEU supports recommendations related to the constitutionally protected right of workers to unionize, including:

  • Ensuring certification votes are conducted within five business days
  • Restricting the use of mail ballots
  • Reversing the 'employer free speech' provisions that allow employers to bully and intimidate workers
  • Extending the validity of membership cards from 90 days to 6 months

The union is also in favour of recommendations regarding expedited arbitration, and changes in successorship language to end 'contract-flipping'. However, we're dissatisfied this particular proposal doesn't include food service workers, such as the hundreds we represent at BC Place.
What's also disappointing is no expansion of sectoral certification and re-introducing multi-employer certification. These are the only avenues to unionize vulnerable workers, such as women and persons of colour, in home child care. The recommendation against 'card check' is also discouraging, as is the continuation of picketing restrictions.
The BCGEU has 77,000 members in a variety of sectors and occupations in more than 550 bargaining units throughout B.C. We're a fast-growing union, and one of the most active when it comes to organizing non-union employees. We have a separate organizing department, and often appear at the Labour Relations Board. As such, we have special insight into the certification, unfair labour practice, collective bargaining and strike and lockoutprovisions of the code.


October 25, 2018

280 transition housing units to be built for women fleeing violence - BCGEU

The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) welcomed today’s announcement by the provincial government to initiate the first steps towards establishing 1,500 new supportive housing units for women and children fleeing violence. As part of government’s Building BC: Women’s Transition Housing Fund, 280 transition housing units will be built province-wide.

This news follows their commitment earlier this year to invest a total of $734 million over the next 10 years to build supportive housing including safe homes, second-stage and long-term housing in addition to transition housing units. The housing funding will also include a range of services, including emotional support and safety planning.

“Access to safe, affordable housing is absolutely critical to supporting women and children escaping violence,” says BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. “As the first significant investment in supportive housing in 20 years, our members working in women’s support services know first-hand how urgently additional housing is needed, and the difference it will make in helping more women escape the cycle of violence. This is what a government that cares about people looks like, and I was honoured to attend the announcement this morning in person.”

Through 12 different projects the 280 new housing units will be built throughout the province based on community need and government aims to have work underway on 500 units within the next three years.

In 2017, the BCGEU released its report Collective wisdom: challenges and opportunities in B.C. women's services which described a sector greatly undermined by inadequate public funding. Among the report's recommendations was to improve women's services by investing in safe and affordable housing for women and children. 

The BCGEU is one of the largest and most diverse unions in British Columbia with over 77,000 members and represents over 1,500 workers in women's services throughout the province.


October 23, 2018

President Irene Lanzinger won't seek re-election as BC's top labour leader - ...

Sister Irene Lanzinger has announced that she will not be running for re-election next month at the 58th Convention of the BC Federation of Labour. As the largest affiliate union of the BC Fed, the BCGEU would like to thank Irene for her contributions to the labour movement in British Columbia during her time as president.

As the first woman president of the Federation, Irene redefined what is possible for all women leaders in BC's labour movement. Through her activism on issues like the $15 minimum wage she both advanced and embodied the Federation's slogan, "what we desire for ourselves, we wish for all." 

The members and staff of the BCGEU are grateful for sister Irene's dedication to making life better for all working people and, recognizing that labour activists never really retire, we wish her all the best as she moves on to new challenges.



October 22, 2018

Proposed legislation will lay foundation for improved professional reliance s...

The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is pleased with the provincial government's introduction today of the Professional Governance Act aimed at improving B.C.'s professional reliance system in the natural resource sector. If passed, the new legislation will lay the foundation for a series of much-needed changes to better protect and manage the province's natural resources for generations to come.

 The legislation will implement two of the 121 recommendations made in the June 2018 Final Report of the Review of Professional Reliance following an eight-month review process led by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. This includes greater public oversight over how B.C.'s natural resources are managed, and the establishment of the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance to ensure best practices moving forward.

"The final report released in June clearly identified the problems with professional reliance and provided concrete recommendations to make the system work better for everyone," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "While today's legislation would only directly address the first two recommendations in the report, this is an encouraging first step towards government reclaiming its leadership role in resource and environmental stewardship. I look forward to seeing continued progress."

 The professional reliance model was adopted by the former B.C. Liberal government as part of a dramatic plan to reduce "red tape" and weaken environmental and health protection laws. B.C.'s civil service – the professionals responsible for stewarding B.C.'s resources and natural environment – was slashed by over 25 per cent. Qualified professionals, hired by industry, assumed greater responsibility for decision-making and oversight of projects, often at the expense of the public interest and the environment.

 The full set of recommendations in the Final Report of the Review of Professional Reliance also included 32 sweeping recommendations to strengthen natural resource regulatory regimes including improving laws, regulations, Indigenous engagement and improve information as well as 87 recommendations specific to environmental reform.

 The day-to-day work of thousands of BCGEU members is shaped by this regulatory model, and many members have raised the alarm about its shortcomings. As part of the public consultation process during the professional reliance review, the BCGEU made a submission to government bringing forward member concerns which is available here.


October 17, 2018

British Columbia turns over a new leaf - BCGEU

Vancouver –

With cannabis prohibition finally over in Canada, British Columbia is bracing itself for a new era of economic potential.

“Legal, recreational cannabis has the potential to be a major driver of economic growth and direct monetary benefit to the province” noted BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. “Wise investments in the regulation, sale, and distribution of alcohol provide billions in direct benefit to British Columbians, and we can expect the new cannabis industry to further subsidize government’s ability to invest in services like health, education, and seniors’ care.”

The sale and distribution of cannabis in B.C. will be managed and implemented by BCGEU members across the province working in brick-and-mortar stores, like the first BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops, as well an online store. Additional stores will begin opening in the next twelve months as hiring continues to intensify all across the province.

“Responsible retail of recreational cannabis by professional BCGEU members at BC Cannabis Stores will ensure that cannabis stays out of the hands of minors, while providing a world-class retail experience for consumers” said Smith.

Hundreds of new living-wage jobs are being filled right now in preparation for new stores opening across the province. Interested individuals should go to the BC Government website: https://www.bcldbcannabisupdates.com/opportunities/careers

The BCGEU represents over 4,900 members at the Liquor Distribution Branch and over 77,000 workers across the province.


October 16, 2018

BCGEU members in employment assistance meet with minister - BCGEU

Six BCGEU members who work for the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction met with minister Shane Simpson late last week.

The members are from BCGEU Component 6 - Social, Information and Health and Component 12 – Administrative Services.

The meeting was organized by the union so that the minister could hear firsthand the issues facing workers on the front-lines in the hope they can be addressed by the government.

These issues include: overwhelming workloads, the need for more staffing, work performance measures, problems with the current service delivery model and computer software, and unnecessary duplication of tasks.

"Our members' clients have complex issues. The existing staff cannot handle the present volume of work. It's disheartening and frustrating for our members to not be able to provide the highest quality service to those who need it," said Judy Fox-McGuire, the vice-president of the BCGEU's Social, Information and Health component. 

"Our members told the minister about their passion for helping clients and the pride they take in their work. At the same time, they're worried clients aren't getting consistent, dignified and fair service. The result is diminished morale. We need to find solutions to guarantee better client service and better working conditions," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

Our union intends to continue working with members and the government to find ways to resolve the problems.

"The minister wants to change the culture of the ministry and we believe it will happen. He also indicated he wants to hear our ideas, our creative solutions to problems. We're urging BCGEU members to share their thoughts with their BCGEU local so we can get them in front of the minister," said Fox-McGuire.

In a report released last April, B.C.'s Ombudsman Jay Clarke made nine recommendations aimed at improving services. The report confirmed what the BCGEU has pointed out for years regarding the long wait times and inadequate service levels. 

The recommendations include:

• Reporting wait time statistics to increase transparency on the ministry's progress in addressing this problem

• Hiring more employment assistance workers (EAWs) to reduce wait times and provide adequate levels of service

• Phasing out the use of limited service techniques used to reduce the amount of time EAWs spend on each call, which resulted in reduced service levels for people seeking assistance

"Implementing these recommendations would go a long way to addressing the issues our members raised with the minister," said Fox-McGuire. 


October 12, 2018

Provincial magazine – Autumn 2018 - BCGEU

The latest issue of The Provincial magazine is available for download. In this month's issue:

• Casino workers stand strong

• Violence at Forensics Hospital

• Protection from online harassment

• Sectoral Bargaining updates

• Referendum on proportional representation

• Ginger Goodwin memorial, and much more.

Download PDF file of Provincial



October 11, 2018

BCGEU submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government S...

Every fall your union participates in the public consultation for the next provincial budget. The consultation is led by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services—an all-party committee of the Legislative Assembly—and involves public hearings across the province as well as written, audio and video submissions and online surveys. The Committee reviews all input received from organizations and individuals and releases a report including recommendations for the next provincial budget. Find out more about the consultation process and how you can participate here: https://www.leg.bc.ca/content-committees/Pages/Finance-Budget-Consultation.aspx

Yesterday, I had the honour of presenting the BCGEU submission at a public hearing in Mission. Our submission reflects the feedback of your senior elected leadership regarding the priorities and challenges of their members living and working in communities all over B.C., and is supported by the rigorous and comprehensive work of Research & Interactive Services (RIS) staff to research and document relevant factors like the state of our economy, the impacts of legislative and policy changes, and opportunities for innovation. 

RIS research shows a strong fiscal and economic outlook for 2019 and we believe that gives the government the opportunity to continue the spirit of bold policy changes started in last year’s budget and go further, faster in some key areas.

Our priorities for 2019 fall into four key policy areas:

  • Address housing affordability and supply. I spend hundreds of days a year on the road visiting members in their worksites and the housing crisis comes up all the time, everywhere. The government has done a lot of work on this issue but it isn’t enough. Our submission urges the government to expand and accelerate direct investment—including capital funding and land contributions—in a broad range of affordable housing options—including public, co-op, social and non-market.

  • Budget for an effective poverty reduction strategy. Since 2017, I have had the honour of serving as the sole representative of B.C.’s labour movement on the Minister’s Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction and I commend the government for launching a provincial poverty reduction strategy as a priority for 2019. Our submission urges the government to go take steps to rebuild the vital public services and programs that will supply the education, training, child care, social services, health and regulatory services that will determine the long-term success of that strategy.

  • Protect B.C.’s environment and natural resources. The economic, health and human impacts of B.C.’s floods and wildfires are impossible to ignore and expected to get worse. The deterioration of our public parks and natural resources are also reaching crisis levels. Our submission urges the government to restore staffing and resource levels in the key ministries and agencies responsible for protecting B.C.’s environment and natural resources including BC Wildfire Service, BC Parks, Emergency Management BC, and the various offices and agencies responsible for analysis, compliance, and enforcement related to environmental protection and natural resource management.

  • Restore funding to our justice and corrections system. Beginning in 2002 budgets for B.C.’s justice system, courthouses, jails and legal aid offices were slashed. The result in 2018 is a system where access, timeliness, staff and public safety, program effectiveness, and the human dignity of clients all continue to suffer. Our submission mirrors the campaign work the BCGEU has done for the last several years, especially through our “Prison Safety Now” campaign, and calls for additional resources and the restoration of the funding necessary to rebuild a functional, effective, and safe system.

Our submission also included several well-researched revenue-generation ideas to ensure stable, ongoing funding for our priorities. While this is common practice for us, the Committee informed me yesterday that it makes our submissions unique.

I want to thank your elected leadership for passing on your priorities. I want to thank the talented and dedicated staff in RIS who actually worked around the clock to put this document together on an extremely tight timeline. Finally, I want to encourage all of you to take the time to read our submission. I look forward to continuing to work with your elected leadership, the staff of the BCGEU, and our provincial government to ensure our priorities are reflected in Budget 2019.

You can read our submission here

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith


October 10, 2018

UPDATED: Information For BCGEU Members At Gateway Casinos - BCGEU

On Friday, September 15 Gateway Casino filed an application in BC Supreme Court seeking an injunction that would have severely restricted picketing at the Penticton location. Gateway's application relied on video and other evidence that allegedly showed our members trespassing, delaying vehicles, and intimidating casino clients. 

The Court heard the application on Monday and issued a ruling on Wednesday, September 19th. The Court denied Gateway's application because the evidence presented did not show unlawful activity by BCGEU members.
This ruling is great news-not just for BCGEU casino workers currently on strike at Gateway's four Okanagan casinos, but for all unions in BC-because the Court's oral reasons uphold picketing as an exercise of free expression and workers' rights.
While this ruling is something to celebrate, the Court also directed BCGEU leadership to communicate with our members about the principles of lawful picketing and the potential dangers of unlawful activity on the picket line. I support this direction from the Court because I believe it is vitally important that our members on the line in the Okanagan are exercising their rights in a way that ensures Gateway will not be able to return to Court to try for another injunction in the future. 
The principles below relate directly to Gateway's allegations and don't cover all aspects of picketing but they should be very familiar to many of you because they reflect the direction the BCGEU gives to all members on the line. If you have questions about these principles or any other aspect of picketing, please refer to that written direction and contact your picket captain.
I've had several opportunities to visit and walk all four picket lines since June 29th and I'm impressed with the strength and solidarity shown by all of our striking casino workers. On behalf of your union, I'm proud to stand with you and support you as you fight for the fair collective agreement you deserve.
In sol,

Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president


Media Coverage


Principles of Lawful Picketing


  • Minor, incidental use of private property, such as momentarily stepping on a sidewalk to get out of the way of vehicle traffic, is not unlawful.
  • Picketers may not follow vehicles into the parking lot, or otherwise proceed into the property.


  • Verbal insults are not unlawful but picketers should remain courteous and respectful even when managers and/or clients are not.
  • If managers are recording the activity of picketers, picketers should be recording as well.

Delaying vehicles

  • Picketers may walk across entrances and exits at a normal pace.
  • If a vehicle arrives while a picketer is in the entrance/exit, the picketer should continue to the other side.
  • If a vehicle approaches or is in an entrance/exit where picketers are not currently walking, picketers should not walk in front of that vehicle.
  • When a vehicle stops to wait for picketers to clear an entrance/exit a picketer may approach the driver, explain the reason for the picket line, and ask the driver not to cross it. During this interaction, it would be best if the picketer had leaflets to hand to the driver. The interaction may continue as long as the driver wishes.
  • Picketers may not stand or walk in front of a vehicle crossing the picket line. The driver must be able to safely cross the picket line if they choose to.