B.C.'S UNION SINCE 1919

NEWS

August 27, 2019

BCGEU calls on BC government to scrap detrimental pension rules

The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is calling on the BC government to scrap outdated rules that compromise private sector defined benefit pension plans by inaccurately measuring their value and creating unnecessary volatility. The union's call to action on this issue follows the release of "A Review of the Solvency Funding Framework under the Pension Benefits Standards Act: Report on Stakeholder Committee Process August 2019" by the Ministry of Finance earlier this month.

Defined benefit pension plans are the best guarantee of retirement security currently available to workers in Canada, but in B.C. they are subject to a type of valuation that can paradoxically weaken their value. This is the solvency valuation which calculates whether the plan has sufficient assets to cover its liabilities if the plan were to terminate. This requirement is currently 100 per cent – enough assets to pay all benefits owed to pensioners at a given time. Plans valued at less than 100 per cent are considered to have a "solvency deficiency."

"The current solvency funding requirements are unrealistic because they were not designed for our current investment environment of very low interest rates and bond yields," says BCGEU treasurer Paul Finch. "As a result, plan administrators are obliged to significantly scale up contributions in the short term, creating volatility and potential cost problems for employers and employees."

To strengthen and protect defined benefit pension plans and to guarantee their security, the solvency valuation requirement must be replaced with a going concern valuation. As opposed to the assumption of termination in the solvency valuation, the going concern valuation calculates continued contributions to the plan and accumulated assets. A well-formulated going concern valuation would more accurately capture the actual value and risks associated with defined benefit plans, while reducing unnecessary funding pressures that have been proven to jeopardize them.

In 2018 the administrative committee of the United Way Pension Plan advised its members that the most recent valuation indicated funding of 119 per cent on a going concern basis; however solvency funding was just 91 per cent so these members lost their defined benefit pensions due to this faulty valuation system. As a result, use of the solvency funding requirement has already been dropped in other provinces.

The BCGEU is also disappointed that the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) is advocating that the provincial government maintain required pension solvency funding at 100 per cent in response to the ministry's recommendation in their report to lower it to 85 per cent.

"CARP's position is based on an understanding of Ontario's regulatory framework for pensions, not B.C.'s, making their comments potentially harmful to the retirement security of B.C. workers and pensioners," says Finch. "To protect pensions, solvency funding must be replaced by the going concern valuation and plan costs should not be based on bond yields."

Read the BCGEU's detailed response to the report released by the Ministry of Finance here.

The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in B.C. with over 79,000 members in almost every community and economic sector in the province.



UWU/MoveUP

August 26, 2019

Self-Checkouts in our Libraries - BCGEU

 

More and more nowadays, we encounter machines where once we would have encountered a person. Have you ever stopped and wondered how often you interact with a machine in your daily life? We're talking about self-checkouts and self-check ins. They are in many large retailers and grocery stores, at the airport, fast food chains, and even one of our most community orientated spaces: libraries.

On a recent visit to Merritt, BCGEU leadership became aware of frustrations caused by these automated checkouts. Seniors and others in the community are now forced to use self-checkouts and when problems arise, they then have to go to the front counter and ask library staff to assist them, back at the self-checkout! The whole process is unnecessary and embarrassing.

In some cases, machines are a good thing. Automation can free up staff from certain tasks so they can focus on other work. However, all too often automation is implemented to cut labour costs, and that means eliminating jobs. That's why it's important to view "improvements" such as these with a critical eye.

In the case of the library in Merritt, patrons prefer to deal with a staff member than with the automated checkouts that dehumanize daily life. It seems we still prefer human-to-human contact, especially at a community space like libraries. In addition to potential job loss, there are other problems with self-checkouts. For example, higher-than-expected levels of shoplifting are often seen. In the U.S., Ikea discovered it took longer for customers to use the self-checkout than the checkout with a staff member present.

Job losses, shop lifting, frustration and delays. They sound like good reasons to move away from machines and back to people. And that is what's happening. Some retailers have removed self-checkouts or cancelled plans to introduce them. However, in Canada, local librarians say self-checkouts are on the rise, even in small libraries with one or two staff.

Librarians are working hard to prevent the decline of jobs and the rise of self-checkout machines, and they need your help. An effective way to make a difference is by sharing your thoughts with management and decision makers. Ultimately, show your support for library staff by not using self-checkouts whenever possible. You'll probably get a smile and a thank you too. Importantly, that librarian will also get a pay cheque.
 
In solidarity,
BCGEU



UWU/MoveUP

August 15, 2019

2019 PAC Survey - BCGEU

The federal election is fast approaching and union members will be voting based on key issues. We are asking you to fill out the below survey to identify what is most important to members. 

The results will be shared mid September and resources relevant to these issues will be provided to members. 

To ensure only one submission per person, please enter your name and email.

UWU/MoveUP

August 13, 2019

BCGEU Centennial BBQ Celebration - BCGEU

Cariboo Area 06 Members

Sunday, September 1, 2019

11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

BCGEU Centennial BBQ Celebration

Boitanio Park, Williams Lake

 

 

Come celebrate 100 years of the BCGEU with a Centennial BBQ in the Park!

Bring the family; we will have a bouncy castle, face painting and bungee run.


Download Centennial BBQ Sept 1 invite.pdf

UWU/MoveUP

August 09, 2019

Government includes BCGEU recommendations in Budget 2020 report

Last month our union participated in the public consultation to offer input into next year's budget by submitting recommendations to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services (more on this here). The Committee has now reported out on the results of this process and we are pleased to let you know that government listened to many of our positions and put a number of them into their recommendations released this week in Report on the Budget 2020 Consultation.

Some key recommendations that closely align with the BCGEU's submission include:

  • Continuing to make comprehensive investments in child care to improve access and affordability.
  • Ensuring investments in the continuum of services for mental health and addiction needs, including funding for integrated, wrap-around support services with housing.
  • Ensuring stable, quality care in residential care facilities by reviewing and establishing minimum staffing levels, equalizing compensation, reviewing sub-contracting of care and services, and addressing recruitment and retention challenges.
  • Ensuring adequate funding and staffing for the Employment Standards Branch and Labour Relations Board to enable them to effectively enforce employment law.
  • Continued investment in prevention, mitigation, adaptation, response and recovery for wildfire, flood and climate-related natural disasters, with an emphasis on cooperating, collaborating and partnering with local and Indigenous communities.
  • Increasing operational funding for BC Parks and Recreation Sites and Trails BC to support staffing, monitoring and enforcement, maintenance, public safety, and recreational infrastructure and services.
  • Fully funding and supporting the CleanBC strategy and increasing investments in shifting to clean and renewable energy, including expanding electrification for energy use.

Our union is disappointed to see that our call for accelerated and expanded investment in affordable housing, and our call for improved staffing ratios and safety measures in the corrections sector were not included. However, we will continue to lobby government and increase public pressure in regard to these and other issues that are important to BCGEU members.

We hope to see the above recommendations included in the upcoming 2020 Budget to be presented in February. Once Budget 2020 has been released, we will present our analysis on our website and social media channels.

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith
President



UWU/MoveUP

August 08, 2019

Affordability experts respond to announcement to build 1,100 housing units in...

MEDIA ADVISORY
For Immediate Release

 

Affordability experts respond to announcement to build 1,100 housing units in Vancouver

WHAT: The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) will hold a press conference at its Vancouver Area Office Friday at 10:00AM in response to the federal government's announcement of $180M in loans and funding for affordable housing in Vancouver.

The federal money will help build a small portion of the housing needed in Vancouver, but it does not represent the kind of long-term funding required to address the housing crisis in a stable and responsible manner. The authors of the report Building an Affordable B.C., BCGEU Treasurer Paul Finch and Vice President of CUPE Local 1767 representing union members at BC Assessment Authority Harpinder Sandhu, will offer a critical analysis of the announcement. They will also discuss how local governments can use a land value capture tax to generate stable funding for the public build-out of affordable housing.

Paul Finch and Harpinder Sandhu will then respond to questions from the media. Individual interviews immediately after the conference will also be possible.

WHEN: Friday, August 9, 2019, 10:00AM

WHERE: BCGEU Lower Mainland Area Office, 130 - 2920 Virtual Way, Vancouver
(Please check in at reception.) 

View the report Building an Affordable B.C. here: https://www.affordablebc.ca/our-plan 
Opinion: Land Value Capture idea gaining traction as housing affordability crisis continues



UWU/MoveUP

August 07, 2019

BCGEU members in the public service – your new collective agreement between t...

The new 18th Main Public Service Agreement and Component Agreements are in effect as of April 1, 2019. BCGEU members who work in the B.C. public service ratified these agreements last year following five weeks of negotiations.

The agreements are for three years and expire on March 31, 2022. The main agreement features many improvements, such as:

  • a two per cent general wage increase in each year of the agreement;
  • improvements in benefits and the addition of dual coverage;
  • addresses labour market pressures in specific occupations;
  • expands bullying and harassment language;
  • achieves special leave for members experiencing domestic violence.

We're finishing up the editing and other housekeeping on the agreements. Download the draft version of the main agreement here.

Download PDF files of draft component agreements:

Draft Environmental, Technical and Operational Component 20 agreement
Science, Information and Health Component 6 agreement

We will update you again when printing and distribution details are finalized.

-Your BCGEU public service bargaining committee



UWU/MoveUP

July 31, 2019

Housing activists hail Burnaby's 'robust' tenant relocation plan - BCGEU

Proposed policy would guarantee temporary accommodation to renters displaced by renovictions and demovictions.

Their signs and T-shirts read "tenant power" and "end demovictions." There were speeches, cheers and chants. It was a familiar scene outside Burnaby City Hall – the battlefield between housing activists and local politicians in recent years – but Monday was different. 

Read full article here



UWU/MoveUP

July 25, 2019

Your new member ID card is almost in the mail - BCGEU

We are excited to announce that BCGEU Member ID cards are about to get smarter! Just like your transit pass or credit card, your new ID will now have computer chip technology which will enable us keep moving forward as a union with the ability to use contactless "tap" technology to sign into BCGEU meetings and events. We're excited about all the projects we'll be rolling out in the coming years based on our new cards, and we hope you are too!

We've upgraded our cards' security measures as well with new unique Member IDs that enhance your privacy and our overall data integrity. 

Around end of November, you will receive a new Member ID card in the mail. But before we send your card out,
we want to make sure we have your current home mailing address. Please check and update your address before mid-August by logging into the BCGEU Member Portal or by calling your area office. If you have not yet activated your Member Portal account, please go to www.bcgeu.ca/signup.

Thank you for taking the time to provide any updates and if you have any questions please contact your area office

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith
BCGEU President

Paul Finch
BCGEU Treasurer

P.S. - If you have a co-worker who did not receive this message, please share with them. We want to make sure that everyone receives their new card. Thank you.

 



UWU/MoveUP