B.C.'S UNION SINCE 1919

NEWS

June 07, 2019

Workers’ Compensation Review Underway - BCGEU

In response to years of advocacy by workers and their unions, the provincial government has initiated an independent and comprehensive review of BC's workers' compensation system. 

This is a tremendously important opportunity for BCGEU members to tell their stories about the injustices within the current system, and to influence legislative and policy changes that will restore fairness to the workers' compensation system. Do you have a story to tell?

Problems with the system started in 2002-03 when the BC Liberal government made sweeping changes to the laws and policies related to the workers' compensation system. Compensation for workers was reduced, appeals made more difficult, and WCB staff were required to adhere strictly to policy, rather than having the discretion to make decisions on the merits of each claim. As a result of these legislative and policy decisions, the workers' compensation system has become skewed in favour of saving money for employers at the expense of workers. Today many BC workers feel the system is failing to fully and fairly compensate injured workers. 

There are three ways for you to participate:

1. Answer the online questionnaire

The review website has a short questionnaire for injured workers or anyone else to share their comments and concerns about workers' compensation in BC. Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey, and contribute your perspective. Some questions you may want to keep in mind when you are completing this survey are: 

  • Is the system difficult to access, understand and navigate for workers?
  • Are work injuries being assessed appropriately and fairly compensated?
  • Are injured workers able to return to work or train for a different job in a fair, healthy and dignified way?
  • What changes are needed to make the system better for workers?

2. Make an in-person or a written submission

If you or another BCGEU member that you know has a story to tell about their experiences with a WCB claim, or even a workplace injury that was never reported, you can share it with the review at a public hearing or in a written submission. The BCGEU will provide assistance and support for members to participate in this public review process, either in person at a public hearing, or in written form.

So, if you or someone you know wants to make a submission, or would like more information, please email wcb.review2019@bcgeu.ca, or contact your local area office.

3. Attend a public hearing

I also encourage you to attend a public hearing in your community to show support for injured workers that have struggled with a system that has been stacked against them, and to make sure the government knows that making the workers' compensation system fair again is an important and pressing issue for working people in BC.

The review will be led by prominent labour lawyer Janet Patterson, and involve 14 public hearings in communities across BC between June 14th and July 19th, and written submissions can be made until July 19th. The review's website, including the terms of reference and the schedule for public hearings can be found here: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/workerscompensationreview/

Thanks in advance for your assistance with this important review.

In solidarity, 

Stephanie Smith

 



UWU/MoveUP

June 05, 2019

Final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous W...

On Monday, June 3rd, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its final report and recommendations in a ceremony at the National Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec on Algonquin Territory.

The release was the culmination of a three-year process in which the Inquiry heard testimony, submissions and stories from more than 2,000 people including the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people, Indigenous knowledge keepers, experts and parties with standing.

The BCGEU was the only union to seek and receive standing from the Inquiry and the only labour organization to make a submission. Thanks to your activism your union was the only voice for Indigenous workers and workers who deliver vital services to Indigenous families and communities that the inquiry heard from.

I was honoured to present the BCGEU submission to the Inquiry in Ottawa in December but decided not to attend this week's ceremony. Instead I watched the ceremony surrounded by some of the activists that made this Inquiry happen at the Feminists Deliver conference in Vancouver. It was a powerful experience of true solidarity and I am grateful that I was part of it.

The inquiry's final report, Reclaiming Power and Place, concluded that the violence experienced historically and currently by Indigenous women and girls in Canada amounts to genocide-a conclusion that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accepted. In light of that conclusion and based on a thoughtful and thought-provoking framework and foundational principles, Commissioner Marion Buller encouraged all Canadians to find the strength and courage to begin to decolonize the relationships and institutions that shape their families, their communities and their country.

The report contains 231 calls for justice that collectively cover and reimagine practically every facet of the Canada we know-from courts and legislatures; to public services like child welfare, policing and corrections; to the entertainment and resource extraction industries that drive our economy; to the daily lives of "ordinary" Canadians-with the ultimate aim of decolonizing our country in order to eliminate violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people.

The BCGEU participated in this inquiry because you, our members, demanded action. Our goal as a union has always been to bring the Inquiry's recommendations to life for our members in worksites, in the operations of their union, and in the larger labour movement in B.C. and Canada. To that end we are currently doing an in-depth analysis of the report and the recommendations to find opportunities for concrete action. The BCGEU is committed to decolonization and we will be relying on the ongoing participation of all members as we move forward.

I encourage you to read the final report and reflect on what it means for you. It's a big document, start with the calls for justice for all Canadians and suggested resources for Allyship (pages 85 and 86 of the Executive Summary), then read through the recommendations that relate to your work and the work of your family and friends. As always, I invite you to get involved in all levels of your union from your local to your component and to champion issues of social justice and reconciliation.

It was your vision that guided our participation in this inquiry and while the final report is a major milestone, the real work is just beginning. The BCGEU is part of a movement to create a more just society where all people have access to their inherent human rights-including the rights to justice, security, health and culture identified by the inquiry-and all people are treated with dignity, respect and fairness. In many ways, our focus has not changed: we will continue to walk the path of true reconciliation with our Indigenous brothers, sisters and friends. The final report shines a light on that path for all of us.

 

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith,
BCGEU President

To learn more:

Read the Executive Summary, Reclaiming Power and Place.
Read the Full Report, Reclaiming Power and Place.
Watch the Video Message from Stephanie Smith, December 11, 2018
Read the BCGEU submission Naut'sa mawt sqwaluwun: Working together with one mind and one heart,December, 2018

Below are 15 of the 231 recommendations that are most relevant to BCGEU members:

  1. Establish a national Indigenous and human-rights ombudsperson and a national Indigenous and human-rights tribunal

  2. Create a national action plan to ensure equitable access to employment, housing, education, safety and health care

  3. Provide long-term funding for education programs and awareness campaigns related to violence prevention and combating lateral violence-that is, violence committed by one Indigenous person against another

  4. Prohibit taking children into foster care on the basis of poverty or cultural bias

  5. Fund Indigenous-led efforts to improve the representation of Indigenous people in popular culture

  6. Launch health and wellness services aimed at Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) people, particularly so that health care is available to vulnerable Indigenous people in their own communities

  7. Create a guaranteed annual livable income for all Canadians, taking into account "diverse needs, realities and geographic locations"

  8. Create safe and affordable transit and transportation services in, to and from remote communities, to reduce dependence on risky activities such as hitchhiking

  9. Revise the Criminal Code to "eliminate definitions of offences that minimize the culpability of the offender"

  10. Fund policing in Indigenous communities so their services are equitable compared to those in non-Indigenous communities, including modern information technology, major-crime units and crime prevention

  11. Fund training and education for Indigenous people to thrive in education, health-care, media, policing, law and other fields

  12. Consider the welfare of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people in planning resource-development and extraction projects

  13. Remove the "maximum security" classification in the federal correctional service, which limits access to rehabilitation and reintegration programs

  14. Increase Indigenous representation on all Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court

  15. Develop knowledge and read the final report. Listen to the truths shared, and acknowledge the burden of these human- and Indigenous-rights violations, and how they impact Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people today


MoveUP/UWU 



UWU/MoveUP

June 03, 2019

Victoria Area Office hours – Thursday, June 6 - BCGEU

Please be advised that the hours of operation at the Victoria Area Office for Thursday, June 6, 2019 will be from Noon – 5:00 pm.



UWU/MoveUP

May 31, 2019

Tentative agreement reached at Telus Employer Solutions - BCGEU

Unionized workers at Telus Employer Solutions (formerly TSSI), who provide payroll services to the B.C. Government, have reached a tentative agreement with their employer, the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) announced today.

"This was a challenging round of bargaining for our members, who recently voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike vote to back up their bargaining demands," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Our members' solidarity was a key factor in securing a fair collective agreement with the employer."

A key sticking point in the negotiations was the employer's refusal to consider a two per cent annual wage increase to match government workers – insisting on lump sum payments instead.

After returning to the bargaining table with a strong strike mandate, the bargaining committee negotiated a tentative four year agreement with wage gains of two per cent a year in the first three years and one per cent in each six-month period of the fourth year.

Modest improvements to benefits are also included in the tentative agreement, including eyeglasses, pay-in-lieu of health and welfare coverage and improved vacation scheduling. 

A ratification meeting is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, June 4 in Victoria. The BCGEU represents approximately 60 members at Telus Employer Solutions.

 



UWU/MoveUP

May 31, 2019

Labour Code amendments give workers and unions more power - BCGEU

B.C.'s Labour Code is the rule book for how workers organize to join unions as well as how unionized workers and their employers interact. Despite its importance to working people and unions, the Code had gone without an update for more than 15 years until the provincial government launched a legislative review process in 2018. Your union made a submission to that process that recommended a series of bold changes that would make it easier for more unorganized workers in more sectors to join unions, make it more difficult for employers to interfere in the organizing process, and strengthen successorship rights for unions to ensure long-term stability once a workplace is organized.

I am happy to say that on Wednesday, one of the last days of the spring legislative session, the provincial government passed amendments to the Code that do much of what our submission asked for, and give more power to unions and workers.

Here are some highlights of the amendments passed this week:

  • Workers in unorganized worksites will have a greater ability to hold discussions amongst themselves about working conditions.
  • Employers will have less ability to interfere when workers are actively organizing a worksite.
  • Employers are prohibited from altering terms and conditions of employment for 12 months after a certification while a first collective agreement is negotiated.
  • Workers in unionized workplaces will have more protection against contract flipping or re-tendering when a new employer takes over their worksite. These amendments to the Code build on the provincial government's repeal of two bills that enabled contract-flipping in the health services and community social services sector earlier this year.
  • The Code will be reviewed at least every five years to ensure that it is adaptable to changing economic conditions.

Despite these positive steps, I'm disappointed that some of our most critical recommendations were not among the amendments passed this week.

For instance, our submission recommended the restoration of a single-step card check certification system to replace the current two-step system in which a worker must sign a union card and also participate in a secret ballot vote, which is attended by the employer. It is our view that signing a union card is effectively a vote to unionize and the secret ballot is unnecessary and unfair.

Our submission also recommended measures to make the Code more responsive to the challenges faced by workers in precarious, part-time, and contract employment. And we pushed for easier access to collective bargaining rights for workers in sectors that are traditionally hard to organize. These recommendations were not included in the amendments passed this week.

Read about our submission here: BCGEU brings 15 recommendations to labour code review panel, calls for fairness and balance for B.C. workers

There is a lot to celebrate in the Labour Code amendments. And there is still a lot of work for all of us to do to ensure workers and unions have the power and protection necessary to create safer, healthier, more equitable workplaces and make B.C. a more prosperous province. With an ongoing review process now in place, we have already started working with activists and staff across the province to build on these gains on behalf of the BCGEU's 79,000 members, and all working people in B.C.

 

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith
Local 303
BCGEU President



UWU/MoveUP

May 31, 2019

The Provincial magazine - Spring 2019 - BCGEU

The spring issue of The Provincial magazine is finished and ready to download. Featured in this issue:

  • BCGEU News – Reports on BC Budget 2019, the money laundering inquiry and the BCGEU's centennial celebration.
  • Community Social Services – Reports on initiatives in the CSS sector.
  • Campaigns – Updates on our Affordable BC, Shop Public and A Day Without Admin campaigns.
  • BCGEU Community News

 



UWU/MoveUP

May 28, 2019

Join us as we celebrate 100 years of the BCGEU - BCGEU

Share your union stories!

 

Back in 1919, workers came together to form what we know today as the BCGEU. As part of our Centennial celebrations,

we're looking back at the many ways that our union has impacted our worksites and communities throughout the years.

Be a part of telling the story of our history in your community through events, photos, and more.

 

Have something to share or want to be involved in your community's project?

Email: centennial@bcgeu.ca

 

Download a poster to put up in your workplace

 



UWU/MoveUP

May 27, 2019

Casino workers vote to join B.C.'s leading union in the gaming sector - BCGEU

A strong majority want to be a part of the union.

(Victoria, B.C.) Over 130 employees across five departments at Elements Casino Victoria voted to join the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) to fight for job security, better wages, fairness and a voice at their workplace. The positive vote to join was 87%, with 82% of workers casting a ballot. These workers join over 3,400 casino workers who are already a part of B.C.'s leading union in the gaming sector. 

"These workers have clearly made a choice to stand together to make improvements in their worksite," said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU. "The message is strong – casino workers feel they belong in our union."

The departments joining the BCGEU are Table Games, Slots, Cage, Count and Guest Services.

Elements Casino Victoria is located in View Royal, and is owned by Great Canadian Casinos, a subsidiary of Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which owns River Rock Casino Resort and Hard Rock Casino.

The BCGEU is one of the largest and most diverse unions in British Columbia. We represent over 78,000 members in 550 bargaining units in the private sector and public services.

 

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UWU/MoveUP

May 22, 2019

Painting on Glass & the West Kootenay Area Office Open House - BCGEU

To help celebrate our 100th Anniversary the BCGEU would like to invite all members & their families to an Open House at the Area Office, 2316 Columbia Avenue, Castlegar. On Saturday, June 1, 2019 between 12:00 & 2:00 pm please come and join us for appetizers & refreshments.

We are also hosting a painting party. A Painting on Glass workshop with Angela Lenard, will be offered from 2:00 – 5:00 pm at the Carpenter's Hall – next door – 2320 Columbia Avenue. Pre-registration is required for in this class and each registrant is to bring up to 4 glasses of any style.

Follow the link below to register:

http://events.bcgeu.ca/area_09_education_fair_-_painting_on_glass_openhouse

Hope to see you on June 1, 2019.



UWU/MoveUP