B.C.'S UNION SINCE 1919

NEWS

March 09, 2016

North American Occupational Safety and Health Week

NAOSH week is recognized annually throughout North America to promote the prevention of injury and illness at the workplace. Organizations are encouraged to participate by planning activities during this week. The theme this year is to “make health and safety a habit”. For more information go to Worksafe BC’s website at http://www.worksafebc.com/news_room/campaigns/naosh_week/

This link will give you suggestions for activities and promotional materials you can order. If you are a worker representative, share this information with your employer or your OHS committee to plan how your organization will recognize NAOSH week. Educating your colleagues on how to protect their health and safety will lessen the number of incidents at your workplace and make your job as a worker health and safety representative much easier! 

If you have any questions, contact your BCGEU Occupational Health & Safety department at ohs@bcgeu.ca

Download PDF of notice here. 

UNIFOR467/MoveUP

 

March 07, 2016

Celebrate International Women's Day - March 8

In Canada and around the world, March 8 is celebrated as International Women's Day. 

International Women's Day and trade unionism are historically linked. The day was initiated to commemorate the 1908 strike of women garment workers in New York, and has evolved into a world-wide movement to celebrate advances and demand improved rights for women and girls.

As part of this fight for social justice and equality, the BCGEU has bargained for provisions in collective agreements that make life better for our women members: wage parity, bridging of service, enhanced maternity leave, health benefits, and other protections.

Within the BCGEU, our current membership is two thirds women, and over half the membership of the Provincial Executive is women. But strengthening female members to become leaders wasn't always the norm. According to Bruce McLean's history of the BCGEU, "a 1976 breakdown of employees in the union's public service bargaining unit showed 36 percent of them to be women… A union analysis of officers elected by its public service membership at the same time showed 17 percent women… The overall picture, covering the component, area council and local levels, was that 20 percent of the union's officers were women."

We have come a long way toward ensuring our leadership is an accurate reflection of the gender balance in our union, including electing the BCGEU's first woman president in 2014.

However, we all know the fight for women's equality extends beyond the borders of our work – in B.C., women have not achieved wage parity in all areas, they are more affected by poverty than men, and women struggle against discrimination in all areas of life. We will continue to fight alongside our community partners to demand improved conditions for all women. 

We wish all BCGEU members a happy International Women's Day, and hope that you will join us in continuing to fight for justice and equality!

Click here for a list of IWD events around the province.

Click here to read the President's Blog on IWD. 

February 17, 2016

BCGEU unionizes advocacy group Leadnow

Leadnow employees have organized to join the BCGEU.

The organization works to promote democracy and social justice in Canada. It describes itself as: ‘an independent advocacy organization that runs campaigns on the major issues of our time, engages people in participatory decision-making, and organizes in communities across Canada.’

“We’re delighted to welcome Leadnow into the BCGEU family. These employees came together to protect their rights through collective bargaining and to achieve greater job security,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “We have worked with Leadnow on several campaigns. Their work is of the highest caliber.”

“Unionization will help us walk the talk by making sure the core values of social justice and promoting democracy are reflected in our organizational structure. We're ensuring Leadnow continues to be a great place to work as it evolves into a mature organization,” said Jolan Bailey, a Leadnow organizer.

The BCGEU represents more than 67,000 members in B.C. in a variety of sectors. The BCGEU organized more than 1,200 new members in 2015 and over 100 to date so far in 2016.

February 16, 2016

Increased funding for MCFD welcome news, investment overdue in other ministries

“We welcome the increased funding for the Ministry for Children and Family Development announced in today’s budget. Our union, and especially our frontline members, have worked hard to convince government that a significant increase is crucial for the ministry. Their concerns were detailed in the BCGEU report Choose Children, and these efforts have paid off. Additional frontline social workers, and support staff, will improve the lives of vulnerable children and families in crisis who rely on these services. However, the province still needs to increase wages in this sector to prevent skilled social workers from moving to provinces that pay considerably more,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

“We are disappointed there has not been a similar investment of new resources for other ministries which have faced more than a decade of frozen and shrinking budgets. Last week, a B.C. Supreme Court judge criticized the provincial government for failing to fund the justice system following courtroom delays due to staffing shortages. This budget does nothing to address these very real problems. The justice system is just one of many branches of government that need additional resources to carry out the important work they do,” said Smith.

“In the Throne Speech the government indicated it would modernize community care and assisted living. Last month the B.C.’s Seniors Advocate said services are not keeping pace with the province’s aging population, in particular cost-effective home support services that allow seniors to remain in their homes. Today’s budget does not provide the funding that is needed. We owe it to our seniors to provide services they need to live independently,” said Smith.

“This government’s tax policies have left it unable to fund critical services. B.C. has the leanest public service in the country. In many cases it is too lean and continues to shrink relative to population growth. A commission on tax competitiveness, announced today, should include tax fairness to increase revenues in its terms of reference. We also call on the government to anticipate the federal legalization of marijuana and prepare to use the existing liquor distribution and retail system to create new revenue to pay for public services,” said Smith. 

For more information: Evan Stewart, BCGEU Communications 604-220-3095.

February 12, 2016

Congratulations David Vipond!

Today is a day many thought would never happen: it is BCGEU Director David Vipond’s last day on the job before retirement.

For those that don’t know David, he’s been one of the behind the scenes heroes of the BCGEU throughout the last 35 years, and it’s hard to imagine what the BCGEU will be like without him.

David’s history with the BCGEU began as an member, working at the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch.

In 1981 he joined the union staff as a staff representative in the Cranbrook Area Office. From there he held a number of staff positions in the union: from Collective Bargaining and Arbitrations representative to Regional Coordinator.

In 1996 he assumed the role where we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing him: Director.

During that twenty years, the BCGEU has grown and changed through the terms of five presidents and countless other officers of the union. Every step of the way his influence has been a part of those changes.

His tenacity and attention to detail has been a large part of many BCGEU bargaining victories and the solid foundation upon which our union has been built.

While all of us here at the BCGEU wish him well in retirement, we will miss his dedication to the members, his extensive knowledge of all things B.C. labour, and perhaps most of all his sharp wit around the office.

Best of luck from all of us at the BCGEU!

February 10, 2016

Information on bullying and harassment

On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, we stand together to say no to bullying. The Workers Compensation Board approved three Occupational Health and Safety policies under sections 115, 116, and 117 of the Workers Compensation Act. These policies deal with workplace bullying and harassment. The policies define bullying and harassment, and explain the duties of employers, workers, and supervisors to prevent and address workplace bullying and harassment. These policies came into effect on November 1, 2013.
Bullying is defined as any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated. It excludes any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment. Inappropriate conduct can include, but is not limited to:

  • Verbal aggression or yelling
  • Humiliation, insults or hazing
  • Intentional isolation or spreading malicious rumors
  • Withholding necessary information to carry out your job


The employer is responsible for ensuring policies, procedures and education are in place at the worksite for all workers. The BCGEU offers 2 or 4 hour anti-bullying courses for our members and their respective employers. Many worksites have utilized our training in order to inform and train workers, supervisors and employers to recognize and appropriately respond to bullying and harassment. Please contact the OHS department for more information on education: ohs@bcgeu.ca

If you feel you are being bullied and harassed, your concerns might be more effectively addressed through the grievance process by contacting your steward or staff representative.

Click here to get your worksite involved in Pink Shirt Day, February 24.

UNIFOR467/MoveUP

February 09, 2016

Throne speech: province to expand on Plecas’ recommendations, modernize commu...

The BCGEU is welcoming news the provincial government plans to implement and expand on the recommendations contained in the Plecas report on the Ministry for Children and Family Development. The news was announced in the throne speech this afternoon. Plecas’ report corroborated most of the findings and recommendations from BCGEU’s 2014 Choose Children report and concerns raised by B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth.

Also included in today’s speech are government plans to modernize community care and assisted living. Last month the Seniors Advocate for B.C. said services were barely keeping pace with the province’s aging population.  

“We applaud the government’s decision to act on the recommendations in the Plecas report and we are encouraged that the government has identified improvements to the delivery of community health care for seniors,” says BCGEU treasurer Paul Finch. “These are important changes that should improve the lives of the people who rely on these services. It will also come as good news for our frontline members who provide these important services.”

“However, after more than a decade of frozen and shrinking budgets, we need to see a broad investment in many other public services as well. Last week, a B.C. Supreme Court judge criticized the provincial government for failing to adequately fund the justice system in our province following repeated courtroom delays due to staffing shortages. The justice system is just one of many branches of government that need an investment of resources and budget increases,” said Finch. “Next week’s provincial budget will show if the Liberal government is willing to make the broad investment in public services, or if the erosion of these services will continue.” 

February 04, 2016

Join us on February 14 for the 26th annual Women's Memorial March – "Their Sp...

The annual February 14 Women's Memorial March was started in 1991 in Vancouver in response to the murder of a Coast Salish woman on Powell Street.  Since then, marches have been held every year to honour the lives of missing and murdered women. Please join BCGEU president Stephanie Smith and fellow activists in supporting this women-organized, women-led event, to come together to grieve, to remember the women who are still missing, and to demand justice.

  • When: Sunday, February 14, 2016 at 12 noon
  • Where: Gather at the north-west corner of Main and Hastings, Vancouver (look for other BCGEU members)

March route proceeds through the Downtown Eastside and will make stops to commemorate where women were last seen or found, followed by speeches by community activists at the Courthouse. There will be a healing circle at Oppenheimer Park at approximately 2:30 pm, and a community feast at the Japanese Language Hall.

* Please note that there will be no union flags, leaflets or banners at this event.

Please advise if you are attending by emailing Gagan Gill at gagan.gill@bcgeu.ca

Click here for more information.  

February 04, 2016

BCGEU wishes members a happy Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year starts on Monday February 8. This marks the start of a fifteen day festival and holiday. Celebrations have started around the world as we say goodbye to the Year of the Sheep and hello to the year of the Fire Monkey. 

"We wish our members and their families a very happy and prosperous Lunar New Year," says BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. "We wish you luck, good health and good fortune for the year ahead." 

China, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore and many other Asian countries observe Lunar New Year as a national holiday. Due to migration, festivals marking the new year now take place throughout the world. For immigrants and emigrants, this is a time every year where families can come together to share food and celebrate the coming year.  People honour the Lunar New Year in many different ways, but the common theme is family reunion and celebration.

An estimated 1.4 billion people around the world will be celebrating Lunar New Year in 2016 by spending time with family and participating in feasts, parades, dragon dances, gift exchanges, and community celebrations. 

According to Chinese astrology, those born in the year of the Monkey are said to possess such character traits as curiosity, mischievousness, and cleverness. Forever playful, Monkeys are the masters of practical jokes. They can, however, be easily frustrated by delays, tend to look down on others and have a fast-flaring temper. 

There are a number of Lunar New Year events and parades taking place around the province. Below is a sampling of what's going on – we encourage you to join in the festivities in your community.

Courtenay

Prince George 

Richmond

Surrey

Vancouver

Victoria