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NEWS

March 08, 2022

Cowichan branch of VIRL behind picket lines as BCGEU librarians escalate job ...

BURNABY, B.C. (COAST SALISH TERRITORIES) – Members of the BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) working as librarians for the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) are on the picket line at VIRL's Cowichan Branch (2687 James Street in Duncan) today. The picket is the first step in escalated job action from the librarians who are awaiting response to their latest counteroffer from the employer via the Labour Relations Board mediator.

BCGEU librarians have been without a contract since December 2020 and have experienced significant delays to bargaining from the employer. They are seeking a deal that aligns their compensation with other libraries in the province and reflects the rising cost of living across Vancouver Island.
 
"To be clear: librarians do not want to picket – they want to be at work serving their communities," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president. "Our members' demands are fair and reasonable. VIRL has the power to end our job action and restore library services for the people of the Cowichan Valley. "
 
The union's picket will be in effect from 9 am to 8 pm. The union is asking library users to support their job action by joining them on the picket line or refusing to cross it should VIRL choose to keep the branch open. Librarians are also calling on the VIRL Board of Trustees to encourage the employer to provide a fair offer and return to negotiations.
 
Librarians provide critical community services to a variety of populations including access to Internet for seniors and literacy skills for children and families. They have also been serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic amidst the province's opioid crisis, affordable housing crisis, mental health crisis and climate-related disasters.
 
Background:
 
For more information, including previous media releases and picket updates, visit www.bcgeu.ca/virl.
 
BCGEU spokesperson Jennifer Seper will be available Wednesday for interview at VIRL's Cowichan branch in Duncan between 9:30 am and 4:30 pm. Email [email protected] to arrange an interview.
 
The BCGEU is B.C.'s most dynamic, diverse, and fastest growing union -- representing more than 82,000 members who work in every sector of the economy and live in every community across the province including the 48 librarians who work for the Vancouver Island Regional Library.



UWU/MoveUP

March 04, 2022

March 8 International Women’s Day 2022 #BreakTheBias - BC General Employees' ...

March 8th is International Women’s Day (IWD).

It’s an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of women throughout history and around the world. An opportunity to recommit ourselves to stand together and work together to continue breaking down the barriers that still hold women back in far too many families, communities and workplaces. An opportunity to dream with our eyes open about a world that is more diverse, equitable and inclusive than ours. A world where girls and women thrive and contribute as true equals free from discrimination, harassment and violence.

This year’s theme for IWD is #BreakTheBias. And, as far as women have come, as much progress as we have won, two years into the COVID-19 pandemic it is irrefutable that women are not yet where we want to be, where we need to be, where we deserve to be. Breaking the bias means continuing to do the hard work needed to create the society we wish we had grown up in.

We #BreakTheBias by acknowledging hard truths and having difficult conversations with our families, friends and coworkers.

We #BreakTheBias by stepping into leadership roles in our workplaces and communities and serving as role models for the women and girls in our lives.

We #BreakTheBias by creating allies and lifting as we climb.

So this year, whether you are organizing an event, attending an event, taking part in the #BreakTheBias social media campaign, or all of the above, we all have a part to play in creating a more diverse and inclusive world.

Visit the IWD website to find out more about this year’s theme.

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith (she/her) 
President, BCGEU

BCGEU headquarters is located on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skxwú7mesh (Squamish) & Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples.

 

 

March 8 International Women's Day 2022 Events

Take time to connect with your communities and your union locals this year by joining one of the IWD events listed below—or organize your own. Please contact your local labour council or organizations to locate events in your area.

Here are some events you can take part in to celebrate International Women's Day 2022

Movie Night: Margaret Atwood – A Word after a Word after a Word is Power March 8, 2022 - Vancouver, Canada

To coincide with International Women's Day, CHF BC is screening the documentary Margaret Atwood – A Word after a Word after a Word is Power by Peter Raymont & Nancy Lang. Please join us on Tuesday, March 8 to watch this inspiring film about Margaret Atwood, her backstory, her novels, and her upcoming works. Register ahead to receive zoom details.

Women in Public Works 2022 (Virtual)

March 8, 2022 - Vancouver, Canada

This session is an inspiring professional learning and networking event for all women public works leaders or leaders in male-dominated industries. Our theme this year follows International Women's Day with #BreaktheBias.

Greater Vancouver Board of Trade: Celebrating International Women's Day: Break the Bias

March 8, 2022 – Virtual, Canada

Join us as we learn from women who have shattered glass ceilings in male-dominated industries and are paving the way for all women and girls, and champions of women's rights in our region who are setting an example for all.

MembersThis event is free for members
Non-members
Individuals: $30 + GST

International Women's Day Panel: Breaking Biases in the Workplace

March 8, 2022 – Virtual, Canada

This year, we're focusing our International Women's Day panel discussion on the ways we can work to #BreakTheBias in the workplace and create a level playing field for women. Join our panel of powerful women for this fascinating discussion and learn how they are making a difference and setting new standards in the workplace. We'll discuss ways to create a workplace free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination; work cultures that are diverse, equitable and inclusive, and ones where differences are valued and celebrated.

Registration: $10.00

North Shore Women's Centre International Women's Day Celebration & Benefit 2022

March 1 - 14

 

Spoken Treasures - The History of Vancouver and Stanley Park Through Indigenous Women's Eyes
Date: March 8th, 2022 (Tuesday)

Start Time: 4:00 pm
End Time: 5:15 pm
Guide Candace Campo, Shishalh Nation
Guide: Anjenette Dawson, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation (to be confirmed)

Tour Description: Join us in Stanley Park on the seawall to journey through time, exploring and sharing history through the eyes of Indigenous women. We will explore the rich history of Stanley Park and Vancouver through Indigenous Women's eyes. Our local Indigenous ambassadors-guides will accompany you along the Stanley Park seawall, for an enriched, leisurely, 1.2 km stroll, to share an historical and cultural interpretive walking tour from the unique perspectives of our indigenous women with you. Spoken Treasures highlights how our ancestral matriarchs lived sustainably through the Potlatch, and how they navigated and were impacted by early contact with explorers, trade merchants and settlers. The tour starts at the Stanley Park Information Booth and is completed at the renowned Stanley Park Totem Poles where the formal tour will conclude with stories of the totem poles and the diversity and richness of the Indigenous peoples, throughout the Pacific Northwest. Legends of Kalkalath, Wild Women of the Mountains, make it fun for guests of all ages.  

 



UWU/MoveUP

March 04, 2022

Pickets at VIRL branches Wednesday if no offer made, says BCGEU librarians - ...

BURNABY, B.C. (COAST SALISH TERRITORIES) – Members of the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) working as librarians for the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) will begin escalated job action starting Wednesday, March 9 should they not receive a serious offer from the employer.
 
On March 1, after the union had issued 72-hour strike notice, the employer made a new offer to librarians. However, that offer did not go far enough on wages given members' working conditions.
 
The union responded with a counteroffer and is awaiting a response.
 
“Unless the employer comes back with a serious offer, pickets will be up at VIRL branches starting Wednesday, March 9,” said BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. “Librarians don’t want job action. They want respect from their employer. Yet all they’ve received is delays, unfair proposals and disrespectful treatment – and that’s just during bargaining.”
 
Shortly after submitting their counteroffer to the employer, librarians submitted a group letter to all trustees of the VIRL Board. The letter called on all 38 trustees to ensure that librarians’ next collective agreement provides them with fundamental supports – including a psychologically safe and respectful workplace, and wages that align with other libraries and lessen the impact of cost of living and inflation – and pressure the employer, who they oversee, to return to the table and mitigate picket lines and impacts on the community.
 
Librarians are also calling on the public to write similar letters to their local VIRL board trustee.
 
For more information, visit www.bcgeu.ca/virl – where the latest updates will be posted for media and the public – or contact [email protected]
 
The BCGEU is B.C.'s most dynamic, diverse, and fastest growing union -- representing more than 82,000 members who work in every sector of the economy and live in every community across the province including the 48 librarians who work for the Vancouver Island Regional Library.
 
Background:
 
See previous media release



UWU/MoveUP

March 04, 2022

Letter: BCGEU librarians call on VIRL Board of Trustees to #respectVIRLlibrar...

On Thursday March 3, 2022, all 48 BCGEU members working as librarians for the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) submitted a group letter to the library's Board Trustees.

Read their letter here.

The letter called on all 38 trustees to ensure that librarians' next collective agreement provides them with fundamental support – including a psychologically safe and respectful workplace, and wages that align with other libraries and lessen the impact of cost of living and inflation – which are needed to continue serving their communities.

In sending the letter, the librarians hope that the trustees will urge VIRL management, who they oversee, to make the librarians a respectful and fair offer immediately and prevent any further job action and subsequent impacts on the community.

Librarians do NOT want to take job action. They WANT to return to negotiations, and they want a fair collective agreement that recognizes the value of their work to the communities they serve. However, without a fair and respectful offer, they will be forced to escalate their actions.

Echo your VIRL librarians' call by tweeting at your local or regional VIRL Board Trustee! Add their Twitter handle (which you can find here) to the following tweet:

Hey [insert your trustee's handle] and @VI_Library board, please #respectVIRLlibrarians by giving them a fair and respectful offer! We need our library services!: https://bit.ly/3KgZW9z

Background:

The VIRL Board of Trustees includes elected representatives from 28 member municipalities and 10 regional districts from across Vancouver Island, from parts of Greater Victoria to Port Hardy including the Gulf Islands, Haida Gwaii and Bella Coola. VIRL board trustees are responsible for guiding and supporting the library system's operations including the hiring of executive and management staff who are responsible for bargaining with librarians.

VIRL librarians have been without a contract since December 2020. Bargaining did not begin until September 2021, delayed due to the employer. Despite intervention from a mediator, negotiations hit impasse in mid-February 2022. Librarians then voted 95% in favour of striking for their needs, and despite hearing that result and receiving 72-hour strike notice, the employer has still not provided a fair and respectful offer to librarians. As of Thursday, March 3, librarians have been in a legal position to take job action.

Follow #respectVIRLlibrarians on Twitter and Instagram for updates.



UWU/MoveUP

March 02, 2022

Seventy-two hour strike notice filed: librarians on Vancouver Island urge ele...

BURNABY, B.C. (COAST SALISH TERRITORIES) – The BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) served the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) board with 72-hour strike notice on Monday, February 28. The union's move means libraries in many communities on Vancouver Island and neighbouring islands could be behind picket lines as early as 8 a.m. Thursday, March 3. The BCGEU is calling on elected representatives serving on local councils and regional districts to prevent this from happening.

"Librarians don't want job action," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "What they want is a fair collective agreement that recognizes the value of their work to the communities they serve, protects their wages from sky-rocketing inflation, and gives them the safe, healthy workplaces they deserve. What they've gotten from their employer so far is unnecessary delays and proposals that can only be described as disrespectful. It's unacceptable."

VIRL is governed by a board of trustees made up of elected representatives from 28 member municipalities and 10 regional districts. The union says those trustees have a role to play in preventing job action and maintaining library services for their communities. In mid-February, the 48 librarians covered by the collective agreement voted 95 per cent in favour of job action to back their proposals after mediation between the two parties in January failed to produce an agreement.

"Trustees are responsible for guiding library operations and that includes hiring the staff who are at the table with our members bargaining this contract," said Smith. "These trustees are also responsible to the people who elected them. It's high time they got involved to help prevent the withdrawal of library services."

For more information, contact: [email protected]

The BCGEU is B.C.'s most dynamic, diverse, and fastest growing union -- representing more than 82,000 members who work in every sector of the economy and live in every community across the province including the 48 librarians who work for the Vancouver Island Regional Library.

Background:

The key issues are wages not keeping up with inflation, ongoing occupational health and safety issues including workplace violence and mental health impacts, and disrespectful working conditions.

Despite use of a mediator from the Labour Relations Board, bargaining hit impasse in mid-February 2022 when the employer refused to provide cost-of-living wages and minimizing proposals to address workplace violence.

The union has 90 days to exercise its right to strike. This means job action can occur any time after 8 a.m. March 3. A strike is only one form of job action available to librarians. This is often the last resort as it could involve the closure of some or all VIRL branches. Other forms of job action librarians could take include working to rule or rotating strikes. Library workers who are CUPE members would not cross a BCGEU picket line. 

Librarians have been without a collective agreement since December 2020.

The 48 librarians are responsible for library operations at 39 branches across Vancouver Island from parts of Greater Victoria to Port Hardy including the Gulf Islands, Haida Gwaii and Bella Coola.

The library system is governed by a board of trustees who, in accordance with B.C.'s Library Act, is made up of elected representatives from 28 member municipalities and 10 regional districts.



UWU/MoveUP

February 23, 2022

BCGEU welcomes progressive vision, new spending, and strong economic outlook ...

A progressive vision for inclusive and clean growth, continued support for critical public services like healthcare and childcare, and the announcement of a new year-round B.C. Wildfire Service are just some of the highlights in what the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) is calling a "bargaining budget".
 
"The devil is always in the details but on first glance there's a lot for our members and all working people in British Columbia to be hopeful about in this year's budget," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "For instance, a year-round wildfire service is something we have been working on for years, so it's good to see that becoming a reality. And continued investments in public services to support priorities like childcare, housing, homelessness, reconciliation, and affordability, while modest, are positive steps."
 
But while one of B.C.'s largest and fastest growing labour unions supports government's broad environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments, the BCGEU's focus is on the budget's economic and fiscal outlook and the implications for collective bargaining.
 
"Almost 80 per cent of BCGEU members in the public sector will be negotiating collective agreements in 2022-some are already at the table," said Smith. "These are the people who have kept our province operating in the face of unimaginable challenges over the past few years and they have made it crystal clear to their bargaining committees-financial issues will be key to reaching agreements."
 
"With inflation at thirty-year highs and the Bank of Canada expected to start increasing interest rates next week, BCGEU members and all working people are falling behind," Smith continued. "In that context, the debt, deficit and revenue numbers in the budget are extremely good news and we are looking forward to making sure the province's strong economic and fiscal position is reflected in our members' collective agreements."

Click here to read our full analysis of Budget 2022/23
 
Link to Bargaining Media release: https://www.bcgeu.ca/bcgeu_begins_bargaining_collective_agreements_covering_more_than_64k_members

For more information contact: BCGEU Communications at 604-291-9611 or [email protected]



UWU/MoveUP

February 18, 2022

Official statement from the BCGEU on unauthorized use of logo for protest eve...

The BCGEU has recently learned that our logo is being used without authorization on promotional material for a "protest" event planned for next week. 

We want to be clear that our union is not associated with, nor do we support, the event or its organizers in any way. This is an unlawful action on the part of the organizers. We are considering all legal options before us to hold the responsible parties accountable for this egregious conduct.

Since the beginning of the pandemic the BCGEU has advocated for decisive, evidence-based public health measures and supported the thousands of frontline workers who have done extraordinary work to keep us all safe and continue delivering the vital public services people in British Columbia rely on. Our positions have not changed.


UWU/MoveUP

February 14, 2022

Black History Month 2022- Part 3 - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

For the past two weeks we have shared a number of events taking place in celebration of Black History Month. This week we have more exciting events taking place! All the events we are sharing are free events or little cost for upcoming concerts. All are great opportunities to hear speakers and learn about ways we can fight against racism, learn about black history and enjoy great entertainment. Below are events taking place throughout this week. 

We encourage you take advantage of these events and continue celebrating black history not just this month but every day!

Black History Awareness Society

Dr. Cornel West "Being a Hope Amid Crisis"Feb 16th 5-6pm online
Visit their website to register

VDLC and the NWDLC

Candace Knoll and Parker Johnson:
February 16th: Register here

BCIT events: Find out more

February 16 – Respectful Workplace Training In-person (via Zoom)
February 18 – Dealing with Microaggressions in the Workplace 

SFU lecture series

February 17th: Homegoing: Blackness and Belonging across the Canada/US Border
Feb 21st 7-8:30pm Music Performances with Dawn Pemberton and Louise Rose at Belfry Theatre. Find out more



UWU/MoveUP

February 10, 2022

Throne Speech 2022 - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

The spring legislative session started Tuesday, February 8th with the government's Speech from the Throne. Throne speeches are government's opportunity to establish priorities for the legislative session. This was the Horgan government's third throne speech since the last election in the fall of 2020 and it provided some insight into what to watch for in government's Economic Plan -- expected sometime next week -- and the budget -- which will be delivered on February 22.

Some of the highlights from the speech that are most relevant to BCGEU members included: 

  • A recommitment to implementing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) through an Action Plan and a Reconciliation Secretariat that are expected to be announced in detail in the coming months. Our union will work closely with members impacted by the implementation of the action plan as details are revealed.
  • A commitment to separate the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) into two ministries in the coming months. The government's plan is to have one ministry charged with stewardship of BC's lands and resources and to link that work to the implementation of DRIPA. We expect to learn more details about the new ministry in the budget and, again, we will be working closely to support and advocate for BCGEU members through the transition.
  • A plan to review and renew key parts of BC's healthcare system by working with other provinces and Ottawa to secure an increase to the Canada Health Transfer. This initiative has the potential to impact BCGEU members working throughout the healthcare system and our union will be monitoring the government's efforts in this area to ensure members are informed, engaged and supported through any changes that result.
  • A commitment to continue work to modernize the Royal BC Museum. BCGEU members were front and centre in initiating this process and they have been deeply involved in every step of the renewal. We are proud of what they have achieved and our union will continue to support these members as this important work moves forward.
  • A commitment to move responsibility for child care into the Ministry of Education in 2022 and manage child care programs through new regional offices. We expect to hear more details in the budget. This is part of government's multi-year ChildCare BC strategy, which is built on sector-wide changes that BCGEU members have advocated for for years. The BCGEU supports and applauds government for recognizing that child care workers are educators and we understand this move will impact many members working in front line child care as well as ministry positions. Our union will work closely with all impacted members to ensure a smooth transition. 

You can read/watch the speech here.
 
We look forward to hearing more details about government's plans in next week's announcement of the Economic Plan as well as the budget release the week after. We will provide an analysis of both.



UWU/MoveUP