NEWS

September 01, 2017

Celebrating Labour Day 2017

This Labour Day we celebrate not only the great legacy of the labour movement in British Columbia, and across Canada, but today’s movement that continues to grow and evolve as we stand up for all working people.

Representing members across all sectors of the economy, we welcomed 3,000 workers into our union this past year, growing our membership to over 73,000! And in the last 12 months, we’ve accomplished so much together.

We convinced the previous B.C. Liberal government to ensure that skilled and experienced highways maintenance workers were retained in new contracts. We raised the profile of important issues like child care and seniors’ care in the provincial election. We shone a spotlight on the working conditions of workers on the front lines of our health care crises, and pushed government to invest in staffing to overcome staffing concerns. The union has also drawn attention to the safety risk of over-crowding in our prison system and the B.C. government responded by opening a new corrections centre in the Okanagan.

BCGEU members took to their communities and participated in numerous protests, rallies and events. In August, hundreds of us came out to support a massive anti-racism demonstration at Vancouver City Hall in response to the rise of hateful, intolerant rhetoric by far-right groups. And back in January, we joined 15,000 more for the Vancouver Women’s March, calling for civil rights and social justice for all.

Our union’s own campaign work focuses on the needs of workers, while seeking to improve social conditions for all of B.C. In December, the BCGEU launched an initiative to reach out and listen to members and understand what their biggest needs were in addressing the fentanyl crisis at work, and to ensure they had access to those resources.

In the coming weeks, our union will continue the fight for a more equitable B.C. by working on two new initiatives: affordable housing and electoral reform. By securing affordable housing, we can ensure that incomes from family-supporting jobs go even further. And with electoral reform through proportional representation, our provincial elections will more accurately reflect the people of B.C. and we will have more of a say in the opportunities and challenges facing our province. I hope you will join us in working for these changes!

So, this Labour Day we reflect on both the past and the future of the labour movement. Looking back, let’s celebrate achievements like the 8-hour workday, pensions and health and safety standards. But looking forward, with much more work to be done, let’s celebrate the strength, creativity and commitment of our movement to create an even more prosperous and inclusive society.

I want to thank each BCGEU member for the work they do every day to keep our union movement strong and hope that you have a chance to spend time with friends or family on this last long weekend of summer. Special thanks as well to those who will be working on Labour Day, such as the men and women on the front lines of the wildfires and all those working behind the scenes to keep people safe, and to transition back into their communities. In the true spirit of solidarity, we commend your courage and dedication in helping so many British Columbians through this difficult time.

- Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president

August 30, 2017

BCGEU applauds the housing minister’s decision to review caps on rental price...

The BCGEU applauds housing minister Selina Robinson’s announcement that the new NDP government, in an effort to stabilize rental prices, will look into changing the guidelines that cap the amount by which landlords are allowed to hike rental prices year after year.

The rising cost of housing is having a very real impact on working people in B.C. As housing prices have increased faster than wages, working people are seeing the consequences in a significant loss of purchasing power.

“Housing affordability is a major issue for our members.” said BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. “From Victoria to Nelson and Kelowna to Prince George, we hear stories of members struggling to pay for housing in today’s market. Our members will be happy to see the new NDP government take action on affordability.”

Under current rules, landlords are able to increase rental prices for existing tenants by two percent plus inflation once every 12 months. This year, that has resulted in a price increase of up to 4% for many families in B.C. who already pay some of the highest housing prices in the world. The proposed changes would reduce this cap in an effort to stabilize rental prices.

Robinson also said legislation to close the “fixed-term loophole” would be tabled in the fall. Landlords can currently use this loophole to hike prices past the 2% plus inflation cap by forcing tenants into signing new one-year leases.

Stabilizing housing prices and reducing the cost of rent is one of the most effective ways to support working people across the province. The BCGEU looks forward to working with the new government to find solution to the housing crisis that work for all British Columbians.

 For more information please contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications, 604-719-4713.

 

August 30, 2017

Report highlights need to provide greater supports to unpaid caregivers in se...

The B.C. Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) commends the report released today by the Office of the Seniors Advocate, Caregivers in Distress: A Growing Problem. This report highlights a worrying trend of increased distress among unpaid caregivers, and makes recommendations to provide them with greater supports as the needs of B.C.'s aging population become increasingly complex.

The BCGEU supports many of the recommendations in the report such as increasing adult day program access, increasing home support, as well as improving access to and streamlining the Choice in Supports for Independent Living program for those seniors with the ability to direct their own care.

 "This thoughtful and detailed report takes up the task of shining a light on the critical work of unpaid caregivers, and the challenges they are facing," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Fortunately, B.C. has a large pool of Community Health Workers (CHWs) available with the skills and training necessary to support these caregivers, and enable the seniors' care sector to function more optimally."

BCGEU members working in long-term care have long spoken out about a range of problems affecting their ability to deliver quality care to seniors and how more support to informal caregivers would improve overall outcomes.

Support at the early stages of caregiving for example is critical and home support workers have the ability to offer assistance and training in personal care, lifts and transfers, and monitoring health status – empowering caregivers with the confidence and skills they need to provide appropriate support. Respite care, also provided by a trained CHW, ensures peace of mind for the caregiver taking a break, enabling them to relieve stress and to strengthen their ability to be a caregiver.

"The report's emphasis on system-wide strategies speaks to the ability of paid and unpaid caregivers to reinforce each other's efforts if adequately supported," says Smith. "We hope the provincial government will take a similarly systemic approach as it plans new programs to benefit seniors and provide them with dignified quality care."

The BCGEU represents over 16,000 workers in various health care sectors.

For more information please contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications, 604-719-4713.

 

Local 467/MoveUP

August 25, 2017

Getting ready for steward elections – Coming after Labour Day - BCGEU

Informed, active stewards are the backbone of our union, and elections to choose the stewards in our workplaces are coming up.

 

Becoming a steward is a great way to ensure that everyone at your workplace is treated fairly and that the hard-won improvements in our collective agreements are upheld.

 

Information packets on this year's steward elections will be mailed out to stewards starting after Labour Day. Included will be procedures on how elections should be conducted as well as informative materials about the importance of getting involved.

 

If you're a steward and have not received information by September 22, please contact your area office

August 24, 2017

Labour Day Celebration - BCGEU

To: Area 11 BCGEU Members

Re: Labour Day Celebration

 

 

The Labour Day Organizing Committee and North Central Labour Council has organized a Labour Day celebration and march. Everyone is welcome!

 

Please join the Labour Movement to celebrate Past-Present-Future fighting for the rights of all.

 

Date: Monday, September 4, 2017

 

Time: 11:00 am March through downtown (start at PG City Hall)

12:00 pm to 3:00 pm Celebration (PG City Hall Lawn)

 

Free food and entertainment for the whole family.

 

 

For more information contact Natalie Fletcher. Phone: (250) 613-9408 or Email: nfletcher180@yahoo.ca


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August 23, 2017

Workers rally against privatization at the Department of National Defence, Ph...

Victoria – Federal public service workers are rallying in Esquimalt to highlight the dangers involved in contracting out maintenance in the governments new multi-billion-dollar shipbuilding plans and to call on the government to do more to fix the problem-plagued Phoenix pay system.

The federal government recently awarded an $800-million contract to perform future maintenance and repair work on the Royal Canadian Navy's new Arctic Offshore Patrol ships to the Canadian subsidiary of a French multinational corporation.

"This shipbuilding plan puts significant military intelligence and operations in the hands of a private company," says John MacLennan, president of the Union of National Defence Employees. "It's a security risk and a warning sign that more and more of our security apparatus could be sold to the highest bidder. That's a trend we're seeing throughout the Defence Policy Review."

"We have yet to see a business case that proves contracting out is better - it out is rarely any more efficient or a cost-saver; in fact, it can often mean major problems and costs down the line." MacLennan continues, "As we have learned with expensive public contracts like the Phoenix pay system, mismanaged contracts can have significant adverse effects on the public service."

The Phoenix payroll system used by the federal government, which was designed and implemented by IBM, has been riddled with problems since it was rolled out in early 2016. Tens of thousands of workers have been under-paid, paid late, or in some cases not paid at all.

  • Date: Thursday August 24, 2017
  • Time: 12:00 PM to 12:45 PM
  • Location: 1424 Esquimalt Road at Canteen Road, Esquimalt

Speakers:

  • Robyn Benson, National President, Public Service Alliance of Canada
  • John MacLennan, National President, Union of National Defence Employees
  • Chris Aylward, National Executive Vice-President, Public Service Alliance of Canada
  • Jamey Mills, Regional Executive Vice President BC, Public Service Alliance of Canada

 

For more information: Sandra Montpetit, Union of National Defence Employees, montpes@unde.org

 

 

Local 467/MoveUP

August 23, 2017

BCGEU remembers first woman president - BCGEU

It's hard not to think of Joan Gower Gillatt as the first woman of the BCGEU. Not the first woman member, but our union's first woman trailblazer.

Joan passed away on August 10, 2017 in Duncan. She was 93.

__________

A service will be held for Joan Gower Gillatt on:
Friday, August 25, 2017

1:00 pm
Duncan United Church, 246 Ingram Street, Duncan, B.C.

_________

Joan's was a life of community service and activism, beginning with her work in the labour movement. She was a lab assistant in Victoria when she joined the B.C. Government Employees' Association (which later became the BCGEU) in 1944. Joan became the Victoria branch's vice president, then president and later joined the BCGEA's provincial executive.

Over the years, Joan took on the many anti-worker policies of WAC Bennett's Social Credit Government. As the provincial executive's only woman member, she led the battle against a discriminatory rule forcing women in the public service to retire five years earlier than men.

Joan was the BCGEA's elected vice president in 1957 when the president died, making her the association's first woman president.

In 1997, the BCGEU granted Joan a well-deserved special life membership. 

After leaving the labour movement to teach high school in Duncan, Joan became an active member of her community. She served as an elected school board trustee and municipal council member over two decades.

In recent years, Joan has lead the Cowichan Peace Pole Art Project, which would see the creation of an outdoor public art space incorporating a traditional Cowichan welcoming figure.

Joan Gower Gillatt was a pioneer in our union. It took a special kind of courage and determination to lead those early fights for equality in the workplace. We can only imagine how many working women's lives were improved because of Joan's efforts and how many women activists she has influenced in the decades since.

We acknowledge her important contributions to our union and women workers. Our condolences to her loved ones and friends. 

- Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president 

Learn more about Joan Gower in the BCGEU's documentary on women and the BCGEU: We are the union: Women's Work [hyperlink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMpeM3N04Bk]

August 16, 2017

Standing against hatred in our communities - BCGEU

As I read reports and watch coverage of the events unfolding in Charlottesville, it saddens me to see the rise of hateful, intolerant rhetoric in our public discourse. These bigoted beliefs have no place in the just and equitable society that so many BCGEU members fight to achieve every day.

 

Nonetheless, it's inspiring to see so many members of the Charlottesville community and activists across the world standing up to oppose hatred and prejudice and to protect those threatened by the actions of these far-right groups.

 

On behalf of our 73,000 members, the BCGEU's provincial executive and I stand in solidarity as we oppose the rise of white supremacism, whether in Charlottesville or elsewhere in the world.

 

It's important to stand up to face injustice wherever we see it. Unfortunately, sometimes that means facing burgeoning hatred in our own communities, and this Saturday in Vancouver is one of those times.

 

A growing coalition of anti-racist groups will be standing together to oppose a right-wing rally that seeks to divide and destabilize our community.

 

A number of BCGEU members will be meeting together to join the forces of unity and tolerance, and I hope that you can join us.

 

Click here for details: BCGEU Stands Up Against Racism

August 14, 2017

Labour Day Picnic - BCGEU

The BCGEU Area 01Cross Component Committee invites all BCGEU members and their families to participate in the 29TH Annual Labour Day Event(hosted by the Victoria Labour Council)

 

 

Date: Monday, September 4th - 2017
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Location: On the Lawn of the BC Legislature

 

Please join us for an afternoon of fun for the whole family!

We will have games, clowns, a bouncy castle and snacks for the kids. Also great music by the Timebenders.

 

Please drop by the BCGEU table!

 

In solidarity

 

Susanne Francoeur, Area 01 Cross Component Chairperson

 

 

Local 467/MoveUP


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