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NEWS

June 09, 2022

Strike Vote: FINAL WEEK! - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

Thanks to the incredible work of stewards and worksite contacts, thousands of BCGEU members have already cast ballots in the public service strike vote. The deadline to vote is next week. If you haven't voted yet, can we count on you to vote as soon as possible?
Why vote "YES"?
A strong strike mandate sends a clear message that members are united behind our bargaining committee's demand for cost of living protections (COLA).
 
Remember, all strike vote ballots must be received at BCGEU headquarters or a BCGEU area office no later than 5:00 pm on Friday, June 17. 
 
If you've requested a mail ballot or been notified that a mail ballot is coming to you, it should arrive soon. Please complete and return your ballot as soon as possible to ensure it reaches us before the June 17th deadline.
 
You don't need to wait for a mail in ballot, if you are in your worksite – ask your steward and vote there – or go to an area office. Ensure you vote and that your voice is heard!

 
Contact [email protected] or call our toll-free number: 1-888-984-1632 if you have any questions.
 
In solidarity,


 
Your BCGEU Public Service Bargaining Committee
 
Stephanie Smith, President
Paul Finch, Treasurer
Judy Phipps, Executive Vice President
Dean Purdy, Vice President - Component 1
Kusam Doal, Vice President - Component 5
Judy Fox-McGuire, Vice President - Component 6
Kayla Woodruff, Member at Large - Component 6
Maria Middlemiss, Vice President - Component 12
Matt Damario - Component 12
Robert Davis, Vice President - Component 20
Michael Eso, Secretary and Lead Negotiator
Lisa Lane, Support Staff



UWU/MoveUP

June 08, 2022

1 in 5 Investors Demand Dollarama do More to Protect Global Supply Chain Work...

 

1 in 5 Investors Demand Dollarama do More to Protect Global Supply Chain Workers, including at Quebec-Based Warehouse and Distribution Centres

Canada's largest dollar store faced a shareholder vote from the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU), earning backing from major investors

BURNABY – Today, shareholders at Dollarama voted 18% in favour of a shareholder proposal asking the company to do more to protect workers in the company's global supply chain, which includes over 1,000 workers in Quebec-based warehouse and distribution centres. The B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU), a long-term Dollarama investor, filed the proposal.

"It's simple: by failing to include freedom of association in its Vendor Code of Conduct, Dollarama is failing workers and shareholders alike. Today, investors sent a strong message that they want Dollarama to do more to protect workers, and they're not buying Dollarama's claims that that it does not need to address freedom of association and collective bargaining in its code of conduct," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

In response to the proposal, Dollarama said that since the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (Québec) protect certain personal freedoms, Dollarama did not need to address these rights in its Vendor Code of Conduct. The Canadian Charter does not apply to private persons – it applies to government action/legislation only.

Belying their claim that Charter protections are sufficient, Dollarama's Vendor Code of Conduct already includes provisions covered by the Québec Charter, including those against forced labour, underage labour and discrimination. Dollarama's own peers including Metro Inc. have chosen to include freedom of association and collective bargaining in their vendor/supplier codes, making Dollarama's decision to exclude such matters even more questionable.

In its 2021 ESG Report, Dollarama outlines the importance of vendor audits which are guided by the Vendor Code of Conduct. By deciding not to include the terms proposed by the BCGEU, Dollarama has ensured that it will never audit suppliers regarding their actions relating to freedom of association or collective bargaining.

Dollarama uses an "arms-length" operating style in Quebec, outsourcing the entirety of warehouse and distribution centre work to six staffing agencies that compete for contracts. In 2021, allegations of dangerous and unhealthy working conditions at Dollarama's Quebec warehouse led to the BCGEU filing a shareholder proposal asking the company to investigate and report on potential human rights abuses that third-party staffing agencies enable. That year, 20% of shareholders supported the proposal.

Going against standard practice in Canada, Dollarama has refused to discuss the proposal with the BCGEU. "As a long-term shareholder, we are disappointed at Dollarama's refusal to discuss this important issue. We hope that today's vote will push the company to do more to protect all workers in their supply chain," said Smith.

The BCGEU launched a responsible investment program in 2018 to leverage its power as an investor to not only to protect and grow its members' assets but also to push portfolio companies to take progressive action on issues that matter to working people including on climate, enhanced corporate governance, human rights, and labour protections.

View the BCGEU's investor letter here.

The company's response to the proposal can be found in its management circular on page B-1.

***

About BCGEU: BCGEU is one of the largest unions in British Columbia, with over 85,000 members in almost every community and economic sector in the province. Under BCGEU's capital stewardship strategy, the union has submitted shareholder proposals at some of Canada's largest companies on topics like human rights, racial equity, and executive compensation. The union's strategy has succeeded in achieving strong commitments on ESG issues.

 

 

 

June 07, 2022

2022 National Union scholarships - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

Did you know the BCGEU is a component of the National Union of Public and General Employees? The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is a family of 11 component and three affiliate unions. The BCGEU is a component of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). Just like the BCGEU, our national union offers its own scholarships program. There are nine scholarships of $2,500 available to the children (including foster children) and grandchildren of BCGEU members or retirees.

The online application portal is now receiving applications for our National Union. 2022 Scholarships and can be found here: https://scholarships.nupge.ca. In addition, the web page contains the unique entry requirements for each scholarship. Please note the deadline for applications has been extended to Friday, August 12, 2022 at 5 p.m. EDT at which time the portal will close.

Entrants may apply to any or all scholarships that they are eligible for but only one award may be received. Due to the eligibility rules for the Young Worker Scholarships, applicants may apply in subsequent years, providing they have not previously won this scholarship, they are still in school, and are under the age of 31. All scholarships come with an award of $2,500 and there are a total of nine annual scholarships as follows:

  • Brian Fudge Memorial Scholarship
  • Scholarship for Black Students
  • Scholarship for Indigenous Students
  • Scholarship for LGBTQI2S Students
  • Scholarship for Students of Colour
  • Terry Fox Memorial Scholarship
  • Tommy Douglas Scholarship
  • Young Worker Scholarships (2 to be awarded)

Entrants must be:

  • the children or grandchildren, or the foster children or the foster grandchildren, of members or retirees of the National Union's component unions or its affiliates; and
  • planning to enter the 1st year of a Canadian public, post-secondary educational institution on a full-time basis in 2022.

All scholarships awarded will be based on the best 750- to 1,000-word essay. Essays will be marked based on content, relevance to the question and presentation.

For further information please phone 613-228-9800, or email [email protected] or check out on their website here: https://scholarships.nupge.ca/

You can read more about the deadline extension here: https://nupge.ca/content/nupge-scholarships-deadline-extended-until-august-12-2022

 

 
UWU/MoveUP

May 31, 2022

BC Union Gets Powerful Endorsement from Advisory Firm on Its Net-Zero Demands...

 

BC Union Gets Powerful Endorsement from Advisory Firm on Its Net-Zero Demands

BCGEU Shareholder Proposal to $690B giant deemed "reasonably crafted," "warranted," and "flexible."

BURNABY – Ahead of the June 10 annual meeting of shareholders, influential proxy advisor Glass Lewis has endorsed the B.C. General Employees' Union's (BCGEU) shareholder proposal at Brookfield Asset Management (TSX:BAM.A), which would compel two of the company's largest affiliates to set clear, Paris-aligned emissions reductions targets by 2025.

"It's not enough for Brookfield's subsidiaries to show symbolic support for the firm's climate action goals – they need to provide hard numbers, so that shareholders and concerned citizens, like our union, can hold them accountable," the leader of the union representing over 85,000 working British Columbians says. "Our proposal is a huge opportunity for Brookfield to rebuild shareholder trust after its 2021 blunder."

Last year, critics slammed Brookfield for falsely boasting a 100 per cent, net-zero investment portfolio and accused the company of greenwashing. Smith says the climate crisis is at a tipping point: "there's no room for misleading statistics from powerful investment machines that can help steer us out of the fire – we need real action, not rhetoric."

Through affiliates Brookfield Business Partners (BBU) and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (BIP), the private equity firm can put a real dent in global carbon emissions – especially at BBU, where Brookfield claims a 64% ownership stake. Right now, neither affiliate discloses their reduction targets, even though Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) found that Brookfield assumes a high climate risk exposure because of its heavy investment in fossil-fuels.

BCGEU believes emissions reduction targets from BBU and BIP will become more pressing following Brookfield's May 12 announcement to split its asset management business from its proprietary assets business as the contributions of BBU and BIP to Brookfield's financial results will increase.

The BCGEU is a long-term minority shareholder in Brookfield Asset Management. The union has been directly wielding its collective shareholder power to make companies more just, fair and environmentally sustainable since 2018. Some of its wins include a human rights commitment from RBC to stop doing business with the United States private prison industry, a commitment from Saputo to reduce its food waste by 50 per cent by 2035, and a move by Thomson Reuters to adopt the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

"In a world where working people often feel powerless against mounting ecological disaster, BCGEU members are showing their neighbours that we do have a say in our future. We can course correct, and we can pressure big players to do the right thing and put money where it will thrive – in sustainable investments, not volatile markets that hurt investors, workers, and the planet," said Smith.

Brookfield Asset Management's annual general meeting takes place on June 10, 2022. The virtual meeting will be available at this link.

View the BCGEU's investor letter here

The company's response to the proposal can be found in its management circular on page 79.

 

 

 

May 09, 2022

BCGEU sues Vancity over pension dispute - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

(Burnaby) - On April 27, the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) filed a Notice of Civil Claim in B.C. Supreme Court against Vancity Credit Union over the financial institution's unilateral decision to deny BCGEU members a jointly-trusteed, defined benefit pension plan that they had agreed to establish.
 
"Filing a lawsuit against an employer is an extraordinary step for any union to take, and filing this claim against Vancity is not a decision the BCGEU took lightly," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president. "But after years of delay tactics by Vancity capped off by unilateral withdrawal from the plan we feel this is our best option to force Vancity to honour the commitments they made in bargaining. Our BCGEU members fought for this plan, they won it in bargaining, and now we're going to the mat to make sure Vancity delivers on their commitment."
 
The lawsuit aims to force Vancity to honour the agreement between the two parties. In that agreement, which has been in effect since 2020 after being overwhelmingly ratified by union members, Vancity committed to work with the BCGEU to develop a jointly-trusteed, defined-benefit pension plan for unionized workers.
 
Joint trusteeship means that the pension is administered by both employer representatives and union members. A worker voice is crucial in making sure workers' pensions are whole and secure when it's time to retire. Jointly-trusteed, defined-benefit pension plans are the gold standard, providing more secure benefits for workers compared to solely-trusteed plans. Such plans have a preferred status under the BC Pension Benefits and Standards Act and Regulations when compared to an employer solely sponsored pension plan.
 
Despite agreeing to co-develop the pension plan with the BCGEU, Vancity repeatedly delayed the work-cancelling or postponing meetings and missing deadlines-before abruptly announcing their intention to offer their workers a solely-trusteed pension plan.
 
Click here to read a summary of the Notice of Civil Claim
 
"Vancity literally banks on its reputation as a company with progressive values," said Smith. "Our members work every day to maintain that reputation. Vancity customers choose them based on that reputation. It's time for them to live up to their reputation. We shouldn't have to sue them to make them honour an agreement they bargained with our members."
 
BCGEU represents nearly 1,000 workers at Vancity. The Notice of Civil Claim – S-223482 – was filed on April 27, 2022.
 
BCGEU is one of the largest unions in British Columbia, with over 85,000 members in almost every community and economic sector in the province.



UWU/MoveUP

May 06, 2022

BCGEU conducts strike vote for 33K members of the provincial public service -...

VICTORIA, B.C. – The BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) is conducting a provincewide strike vote to give 33,000 members of their public service bargaining unit a voice in how to move forward in bargaining with their employer, the Public Service Agency. Negotiations between the parties reached impasse in early April primarily due to a significant gap in wage proposals.
 
“We’ve been clear from day one that cost of living protection for wages was the key to a deal this round,” said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU and chair of the union’s public service bargaining committee. “It’s a fair demand and we know government can afford it but the employer tabled two wage proposals that didn’t even get halfway there. This vote is a chance for our members to tell their employer what they think of those offers.”
 
The strike vote will be conducted over five weeks starting Monday, May 16th with a vote count scheduled for Wednesday, June 22nd.

“This is the BCGEU’s largest bargaining unit and for more than one-third of these members this is their first round of bargaining,” said Smith. “This is their collective agreement and a strike vote is a major undertaking so it’s critical that we take time to make sure every member is informed and engaged and has a chance to vote.”
 
The BCGEU began preparing for impasse and potential job action early in the bargaining process, including negotiating with the Public Service Agency to determine essential service levels in case of job action. Essential service negotiations are expected to continue for several more weeks.
 
“We know that the best place to get a deal is at the table, and that is still our goal,” said Smith. “Experience tells us that a strong strike vote can be a very effective way to make that goal a reality.”
 
The BCGEU is the first of many public sector unions to bargain with the government in 2022. In total, almost 400,000 public sector workers have agreements that will, or already have, expire this year.

-30-

Media contact:
Danielle Marchand
[email protected]
Press Secretary-President’s Office
BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU)
Mobile: 778-968-4509

UWU/MoveUP

May 05, 2022

Over 70% of Independent Loblaw Shareholders Demand Supplier Audit Transparenc...

 

Over 70% of Independent Loblaw Shareholders Demand Supplier Audit Transparency
 

Union-filed shareholder motion earns significant support

 

Burnaby — Today, at the Loblaw (TSX: L) annual general meeting of shareholders, independent shareholders voted 72% in favour of a shareholder proposal asking for the company to release more information on supplier audits (34% overall). The shareholder proposal was submitted by the B.C. General Employees’ Union (BCGEU), an institutional investor in Loblaw.

Currently, Loblaw only discloses the number of audits it conducts with no additional information. Investors believe that enhanced information is required to ensure supply chain risks are being managed. The two largest proxy advisory firms in the world, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis, both recommended that shareholders vote in favour of BCGEU’s proposal.

BCGEU filed the proposal following concerning supply chain controversies at Loblaw related to forced labour in the Uyghur region of China. In early 2021, Loblaw committed to not source cotton produced the Uyghur Region of China. However, according to shipment data compiled by Dr. Laura Murphy, Professor of Human Rights and Contemporary Slavery at the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University (UK), Loblaw imported textiles from the Uyghur region of China as recently as August 2021. In addition, a CBC investigation found Loblaw has sold tomatoes produced with forced labour.

In response to the AGM results, BCGEU President Stephanie Smith released the following statement:

 “Right now, investors are in the dark about what is going in Loblaw’s supply chain. Our proposal asked a simple question: should Loblaw disclose more information on the results of its audits in line with its peers? Today’s significant vote indicates Loblaw shareholders agree it must. We intend to keep pushing Loblaw to manage risk and protect shareholder value.”

Both Walmart and Tesco disclose more details on the results of those audits than Loblaw.  Gildan reports results of supply chain audits and classification criteria for the results of supply chain data.

Loblaw is majority owned by George Weston Limited and the Weston family.

View the BCGEU shareholder proposal here (page B-2 or 87): https://dis-prod.assetful.loblaw.ca/content/dam/loblaw-companies-limited/creative-assets/loblaw-ca/investor-relations-reports/annual/2022/2022_Loblaw_Circular_SEDAR_EN.pdf

View BCGEU's investor letter brief: https://assets.nationbuilder.com/bcgeu/pages/896/attachments/original/1650903276/2022-037%20INVESTOR%20BRIEF%20LOBLAWS8.pdf?1650903276

 

About BCGEU: BCGEU is one of the largest unions in British Columbia, with over 85,000 members in almost every community and economic sector in the province. Under BCGEU's capital stewardship strategy, the union has submitted shareholder proposals at some of Canada’s largest companies on topics such as human rights, racial equity, and executive compensation. The union's strategy has succeeded in achieving strong commitments on ESG issues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



May 04, 2022

Red Dress Day 2022 Events - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

Today the BCGEU recognizes Red Dress Day 

Red Dress day is a day to honour our missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people. This day first began on May 5, 2010 and has taken place annually every year since.

It's a day to raise awareness and give voice to those whose stories have not been heard. We hang red dresses in public and private spaces and also wear red on this day as a symbol of all those who are missing.

Red dress day began as the REDress project started by Métis artist, Jamie Black, to bring attention to the disproportionate number of missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada and United States.

There are many ways to honour the day: wearing red, hanging a red dress, or attending an event near you:

 

Vancouver

Host: Pacific Association of First Nation Women

Vancouver City Hall

12:00 pm-2:00 pm

Details

 

Victoria

Our Womxn Are Sacred Walk

Begins at 10AM

Hallowell and Admirals Roads to Maple Bank

Details

 

 

Surrey

Host: CUPE 728

Bear Creek Park, Surrey BC

Begins at 4:30 pm

Details

 

 

Abbotsford

Host: Fraser Valley Métis Association

Abbotsford City Hall

32315 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford BC

10:00AM - 6:30PM

Details

 

Dawson Creek

Time: 5:00 pm

Locations: Dawson Creek Mall Parking lot

 

Details

 

Terrace

Host: Tears to Hope Society

Red Dress Day Run and Walk

Run begins at 8:00 am

Walk begins 6:30 pm-8:00 pm

Chill Soda Shop for both

Details

 

 

Vanderhoof

Location: Burrard and Highway of Tears

Time: Noon-3:00pm

 

 

 

 

 



UWU/MoveUP

April 30, 2022

Happy May Day – we’re now 85,000 members strong - BC General Employees' Union...

May Day – or International Workers' Day – is a day in which the labour movement around the world comes together to recognize working people's collective power. Only by organizing to protect our collective interests as a class can we shift the balance of power under capitalism.

As we celebrate working people, we're also proud to announce that our union is now 85,000 members strong!

Our union has grown in a number of ways, including: new members organizing with the BCGEU for a voice on the job and the union ensuring seasonal members like wildfire fighters are included in our year-round membership figures.

Now even more workers in B.C. have a means to fight for justice, dignity, and respect at work. And that's certainly something to celebrate!

In just the past year workers at the following workplaces have organized and joined the BCGEU:

  • Options Community Services Society
  • YMCA of Greater Vancouver – Djavad Mowafaghian Child Care Centre
  • Guru Nanak Education Society of BC 
  • First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo – Unitarian Shelter
  • New View Society
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Vancouver – Men's Shelter
  • YMCA of Greater Vancouver - Renfrew Station Child Care
  • Beacon Community Association
  • AgeCare Cariboo Place 
  • UBC Okanagan Residence Life
  • Sooke Family Resources Society

And just last week, 260 new members at Victoria's Our Place Society voted to organize their union with the BCGEU. They provide supportive housing and community-based services at 10 sites to those experiencing poverty and homelessness.

New members are joining the BCGEU all the time and 85,000 is an exciting milestone for our members.

Happy May Day! All power to the workers!



UWU/MoveUP