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NEWS

April 18, 2023

2023 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. 2023 Scholarships can be found here: http://nupge.ca/scholarships/ In addition, the web page contains the unique entry requirements for each scholarship. Please note the deadline for applications is Friday, July 7 at 9 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 2SLGBTQIA+ 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 2023.

Please note that some criteria for scholarships have changed. The qualifications required for the Scholarship for Indigenous Students have been modified. As well, all scholarships are now open to students with a full or part-time course of study leading to a diploma or degree. The part-time course load option has been added as a result of a constitutional resolution.

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



UWU/MoveUP

April 17, 2023

Kiara Agnew-In Remembrance - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

On behalf of our union's 85,000 members, we would like to offer our most sincere condolences on the tragic death of one of our members, 23-year-old Kiara Agnew.

Kiara's life was cut short in a senseless act of violence while she was on vacation in Mexico last month to celebrate her upcoming birthday. 

Kiara worked at Lakeview Credit Union in Dawson Creek and was a BCGEU member for just over a year. Kiara had a bright future ahead of her, was a valued colleague and was well-loved in her tight-knit community. She was known as radiant, full of life, and wise beyond her years. 

Our thoughts are with Kiara's family, friends, co-workers and all of those who knew and loved her.

 

 

 



UWU/MoveUP

April 11, 2023

BCGEU statement on the ongoing decampment of unhoused people on Vancouver’s D...

The City of Vancouver's ongoing forced, mass decampment of unhoused people in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) without alternative supportive housing in place is unnecessary and a violation of human rights. 

 

Since last week, Vancouver police and city staff have been actively dismantling tents, throwing out belongings and forcibly removing unhoused people from structures along Hastings Street in Vancouver. 

 

Hundreds of BCGEU members work in supportive housing and other support services in the DTES, including Atira Property Management, Lookout Housing and Health, RainCity Housing and the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre. The ongoing decampment has meant that many residents are not able to access services such as safe injection sites, community health services and supportive housing. 

 

Supportive housing centres and shelters are reporting that they are beyond capacity and the availability of accessible housing is at crisis levels. Many SROs (single-room occupancy hotels) have poor living conditions and they often violate health and safety codes. For example, last year alone there were hundreds of fires and five deaths in the DTES, all of which occurred in SROs. Residents of the DTES often feel safer living on the street because of this.

 

The BCGEU is calling for the expropriation of all unsafe SROs to be renovated and made liveable. In the meantime, the City of Vancouver must address the immediate need for adequate shelter by designating an area for people to shelter or tent in while housing is being built.

 



UWU/MoveUP

April 05, 2023

"This is an important day” - shareholder vote at RBC a “turning point” for sy...

TORONTO and SASKATOON - April 5, 2023

"This is an important day" - shareholder vote at RBC a "turning point" for systemic racism in Canadian financial institutions

More than 44% of RBC shareholders voted in favour of a proposal filed by SHARE on behalf of the Atkinson Foundation and the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU). The proposal asks Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) to commission a third-party racial equity audit covering its employment and business practices.

A racial equity audit is an independent analysis of a company's business practices intended to identify and remediate potential and actual disparate outcomes for Indigenous people and communities of colour. The audit evaluates the merits of a company's efforts, policies and practices to tackle systemic racism in light of its racial justice commitment. Over the past two years, racial equity audit proposals have been commonly filed in the U.S., however, this is the first ever proposal of this type voted at a Canadian bank. 

"The Atkinson Foundation is dedicated to social and economic justice. We believe financial institutions must play a positive role in helping people build inter-generational wealth and grow their businesses," said Colette Murphy, Chief Executive Officer at the Atkinson Foundation. "Historically and persistently, banks have exacerbated the racial wealth gap, through overt policies, and unconscious bias. Royal Bank shareholders have spoken clearly with today's vote: the status quo is unacceptable. RBC – and all other Canadian financial institutions – must act now to identify and eliminate – racist policies and practices in their businesses.

RBC has not engaged in efforts to evaluate the potential negative impacts that its products and services may have on people of colour or Indigenous peoples. Despite the bank's assertions that its internal reviews are sufficient to address its racial equity risks, shareholders clearly disagreed.

"Any racial inequity in banking systems, services and practices will have outsized impacts for racialized and Indigenous people across the country, and for our economy as a whole," said Kevin Thomas, CEO of SHARE. "RBC should be just as concerned as we are about ensuring fair access to capital for Indigenous and Black-owned businesses, access to inter-generational wealth-building opportunities and effective services for underserved communities. They should be just as concerned as we are that certain communities are being forced to rely on predatory payday lenders. RBC should want to know whether its next AI and fintech processes are baking in unseen biases. RBC should want to ensure that their current and future employees are able to access real opportunities." 

Taking place in Saskatoon, this year's AGM was the first in-person RBC AGM since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Shareholders had brought forward proposals on climate action and Indigenous rights, in addition to SHARE and the BCEGEU's proposal on racial equity audits. Wet'suwet'en Hereditary leaders were denied access to the plenary meeting room.

"The events at today's AGM underline the urgent need for RBC to identify and eradicate racist practices in its business", said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president, referring to the segregation and unequal treatment of duly-appointed proxyholders who are Wet'suwet'en Hereditary leaders at the RBC AGM. "And clearly shareholders agree. 44 percent of votes - representing roughly $40 billion in shareholder value - supported our proposal. A racial equity audit is an important first step to ensuring an unacceptable situation like this never happens again. Shareholders are watching". 

Three Canadian banks already committed to conduct racial equity audits: Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and National Bank of Canada. The racial equity audit proposal was also supported by leading proxy advisor Glass Lewis. 

SHARE and BCGEU have filed a similar shareholder proposal at Bank of Montreal to be voted at the bank's upcoming general annual meeting on April 18th.

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Background: 

SHARE: Proxy Alert: Racial Equity Audit Proposals at Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal:

https://share.ca/blog/proxy-alert-racial-equity-audit-proposals-at-royal-bank-of-canada-and-bank-of-montreal/

Harvard Business Review: Racial Equity Audits: A New ESG Initiative https://corpgov.law.harvard.edu/2021/10/30/racial-equity-audits-a-new-esg-initiative/


ABOUT SHARE 
SHARE is an award-winning non-profit organization dedicated to mobilizing investor leadership for a sustainable, inclusive and productive economy .We do this by supporting our investor network and amplifying their voices to improve corporate sustainability practices and implement better rules and regulations that governcapital markets .For more information on SHARE, visit www.share.ca 

ABOUT ATKINSON FOUNDATION 
The Atkinson Foundation is a Canadian charitable foundation committed to social and economic justice. Our highest priority is strengthening movements for decent work and a fair economy. We collaborate with community organizers, policy innovators and investors to challenge income, wealth and democratic inequality. Learn more about us here. 

ABOUT BCGEU 
The B.C. General Employees' Union represents over 85,000 workers in almost every community and economic sector in British Columbia. 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. 

 

Media Contact: Anthony Schein
Director of Shareholder Advocacy
T:+1.416.306.6462 www.share.ca
 

Emma Pullman
BCGEU Capital Stewardship Officer 
[email protected]



UWU/MoveUP

April 05, 2023

Rest in Peace Robert Keddie - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

It's with great sadness that we announce the passing of former cross component treasurer and long time Local 311 executive Robert Keddie on April 1. 

Keddie was very active in the B.C. labour movement and his connection with the BCGEU goes back decades. He was a member of local 203 and served on the Component 2 executive. Later, he served as the chair of 311 and on Component 3's executive as the second vice chair. 

Keddie was also active as a steward, OHS representative, delegate to the BCGEU's 2014 triennial convention and long serving delegate to the North Central Labour Council.

He retired in December 2021 after many years working as a residential care worker with AIMHI in Prince George.

Component 3 vice president Andrea Duncan knew Keddie for many years: 

"Rob was a friend to everyone. He was gentle but would sure call you out if you did something he didn't agree with. He was a strong mentor to anyone that encountered him and really took the time to support you. Whether that was through his workplace, union activism or as a friend. He had a way of bringing people together. Rob was a salt of the earth kind of guy and we will miss him tremendously."

 

 

 



UWU/MoveUP

March 29, 2023

BCGEU community social services workers ratify three-year deal - BC General ...

March 29, 2023
For immediate release
 

BCGEU community social services workers ratify three-year deal  

 

BURNABY – The Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA) announced today that the 19,000 members of the community social services bargaining unit employed by the Community Social Services Employer's Association (CSSEA) voted 95 per cent to accept the tentative agreement. The B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) is CSSBA's lead union representing over 13,000 members. The agreement was negotiated with eight other unions who represent members in the agreement: CUPE, HEU, HSA, CSWU Local 1611, CLAC, USW 1-417, UFCW and BCNU.

The tentative deal was reached on February 6th, 2023, after one year of negotiations. The new agreement is retroactive from April 1, 2022 through March 31, 2025 and includes:

  • Low-wage redress* increases, retroactive for all employees (past and present) to April 1, 2022
  • Wage increases follow the GWI of the public sector agreements
  • 100% paid sick leave, effective April 1, 2024
  • Improvements to health and welfare benefits, leave provisions, safety and health, layoff and recall, bullying and harassment language.

* Low-wage redress (LWR) refers to funds that are meant to help reduce long-term inequalities in compensation in both community social services and health care sectors.

"This agreement reflects our members' priorities, and the gains made are significant: 100% sick pay, a fair and equitable compensation package, meaningful recognition and reconciliation for Indigenous workers, supports for psychologically safer and healthier workplaces and more," said BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. "This round of bargaining was one of the longest in the history of this sector, and I am proud our bargaining team for what they've achieved for our members."

Community social services workers work in every community in B.C., providing services such as supporting Indigenous families; supporting children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities; supporting women, youth and children fleeing abuse; and providing support for people with mental health challenges and at-risk youth.

The Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA) represents unionized workers in the community social services sector, and the Community Social Services Employers Association (CSSEA) represents over 200 community social services employers across the province.

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For more information, contact Holly Reid, Communications, 604-291-9611, [email protected]



UWU/MoveUP

March 11, 2023

B.C. provincial budget released – read our union’s analysis - BC General Empl...

B.C. provincial budget released – read our union's analysis
 
Each year the B.C. government releases a budget that outlines their priorities for the coming years.
 
These budgets have significant impacts on BCGEU members, both at work and as residents of our province.
 
Our union pays careful attention to government's priorities and has prepared an in-depth analysis of the key points for BCGEU members.
 
While there are no new major initiatives, Budget 2023 continues to strengthen services with a goal of improving the lives of residents of B.C.
 
Budget 2023 focuses many of its largest investments in issues that our union considers crucial to the long-term future of BCGEU members and the health of the province as a whole:

  • health and mental-health care
  • affordable housing
  • climate action and clean growth
  • public safety
  • targeted supports for cost of living

All of these are among our union's top priorities, and the BCGEU welcomes these actions and applauds government on putting people first.
 
Many of our union's other priorities are addressed in Budget 2023, and we will continue to advocate and push for those that were not, including:

  • New investment in seniors' care
  • Steps to remove private, for-profit providers from B.C. seniors' care
  • Measures to improve tax fairness and to reduce extreme economic inequality
  • Actions to address recruitment and retention of early childhood educators
  • More expansive, direct investments in publicly owned and operated affordable housing stock

This new budget is responsible, thoughtful and remains committed to protecting and expanding crucial public services. Our union looks forward to working with government to implement these programs with a people-centric approach and pushing them to take additional action on our additional priorities.
 
Click here to read our union's full analysis of Budget 2023.



UWU/MoveUP

March 03, 2023

Shareholders call RBC and BMO to action on racial equity - BC General Employe...

Shareholders will soon get a chance to vote on two proposals on racial equity at the Bank of Montreal (BMO) and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). The proposals were jointly filed by BCGEU with Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) on behalf of the Atkinson Foundation.

This comes following announcements from both the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and National Bank of Canada (NBC) who each announced that they will conduct and disclose the results of third-party racial equity audits. They join TD Bank, which made a similar announcement in April 2022

After engagements with both bank, either BMO or RBC commitments on racial equity, and as such these proposals will instead go to vote at their 2023 Annual General Meetings. Despite the new precedents being set by TD and now CIBC and NBC and TD Bank, both BMO and RBC have recommended shareholders vote against the proposals. 

A racial equity audit is an independent analysis of a company's business practices intended to identify and remediate potential and actual disparate outcomes for Indigenous people and communities of colour. The audit evaluates the merits of a company's efforts, policies and practices to tackle systemic racism in light of its racial justice commitment. 

BCGEU President Stephanie Smith says:

RBC and BMO's refusal to commit to these audits puts them at a disadvantage in a world where diversity, equity, and inclusion are increasingly important to customers, employees, workers, and investors. TD, NBC and CIBC may be the first Canadian banks to engage in this work, but they most certainly will not be the last. We intend to keep pushing banks and financial institutions on this critical issue." 

Colette Murphy, Chief Executive Officer at the Atkinson Foundation says:

The Atkinson Foundation is dedicated to social and economic justice. We believe financial institutions must play a positive role in helping people build inter-generational wealth and grow their businesses. Historically and persistently, banks have exacerbated the racial wealth gap, through overt policies, and unconscious bias. CIBC and NBC are taking an important step in committing to audits, which will help surface these issues and identify solutions that we can act on immediately together. 

Financial institutions play a key role in furthering racial equity in society, as they provide both businesses and individuals with access to essential economic opportunities.

Research has indicated that, when compared to their white counterparts, people of colour and Indigenous people are more likely to be denied loans, to be recommended products that were not properly serve their interests, or not offered crucial products at all such as overdraft protection and balance protection insurance.

By failing to provide equitable opportunities to people of colour and Indigenous people, banks have long perpetuated unequal wealth distribution. 

The decision by both BMO and RBC to forego conducting racial equity audits is particularly disappointing in light of their peers' recent commitments. 

According to Sarah Couturier-Tanoh, Associate Director of Corporate Engagement at SHARE:

When a company publicly commits to fighting racial injustice, it is expected that such a statement is backed up with concrete actions and measurable outcomes. Failure to do so is not only a missed opportunity to rectify racial inequities but also exposes institutional investors to meaningful reputational, legal and regulatory risks.

The resolutions at RBC and BMO will be the first shareholder proposals on racial equity audits to go to a vote at Canadian companies. Recently, numerous Canadian banks have faced controversy about the racial equity impacts of policies, products and practices, including the recent US$ 31 million settlement between the US Department of Justice and City National, an RBC subsidiary in the U.S., over allegations of redlining practices in majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in California, signaling that SHARE's proposals are timely and critical. 

ABOUT BCGEU

The B.C. General Employees' Union represents over 85,000 workers in almost every community and economic sector in British Columbia. 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. 

ABOUT SHARE

SHARE is an award-winning non-profit organization dedicated to mobilizing investor leadership for a sustainable, inclusive and productive economy. We do this by supporting our investor network and amplifying their voices to improve corporate sustainability practices and implement better rules and regulations that govern capital markets. For more information on SHARE, visit www.share.ca

ABOUT ATKINSON FOUNDATION

The Atkinson Foundation is a Canadian charitable foundation committed to social and economic justice. Our highest priority is strengthening movements for decent work and a fair economy. We collaborate with community organizers, policy innovators and investors to challenge income, wealth and democratic inequality. Learn more about us here.

 

Supplementary Information regarding the Racial Equity Audit Proposal at RBC and BMO

March 02, 2023

BCGEU and UBCIC announce partnership to push corporate Canada to operationali...

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2023

BCGEU and UBCIC announce partnership to push corporate Canada to operationalize FPIC
The labour union and Indigenous political organization joined forces with the aim of combining their respective expertise to push financial institutions to operationalize FPIC.

Vancouver, BC, Musqueam Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories - The B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) have partnered to engage Canada's largest public companies on the operationalization of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) when it comes to business decisions that impact the rights of Indigenous peoples. FPIC is an essential principle of international human rights law that recognizes Indigenous peoples' right to make decisions about their lands and territories.

The groups will prioritize efforts to integrate FPIC into the operational policies and practices of financial institutions. The two have filed the only FPIC resolution to go to a vote this year at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)'s Annual Meeting on April 5, 2023. The BCGEU, the shareholder, and UBCIC note that RBC lags behind other Canadian banks and has much more to do to operationalize FPIC into its corporate policies and activities.

"We have seen a lot of companies talking a lot of talk about the call to action #92. The time for words is over. The time for action is now," said Paul Finch, BCGEU Treasurer. "RBC taking action to operationalize FPIC will make it a better company and will give RBC additional leverage to effect meaningful and necessary change on the path towards reconciliation.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC emphasized the importance of operationalizing FPIC in order to uphold Indigenous rights. "RBC needs to go beyond platitudes and performative activities and start implementing FPIC, which is fundamental to any credible reconciliation process," he said. "Canadian banks have treated Indigenous issues as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion matters rather than one intertwined with operations and business decision-making. While 'economic reconciliation' and Indigenous prosperity are important, neither can occur if banks like RBC continue to pour vast funds into projects and companies that do not obtain FPIC."

The shareholder proposal asks RBC to revise its Human Rights Position Statement so RBC can inform itself about how its business clients operationalize FPIC.

"Overlooking the right to FPIC is not only a material risk but will increasingly become a compliance risk as Human Rights Due Diligence legislation gains traction around the world," said Finch.

RBC and other banks often refer to the Equator Principles to address Indigenous rights. "Shareholders should not be persuaded by the banks' reliance on the Equator Principles. EP4 falls short of the minimum standard set out in UNDRIP and will not mitigate the material risks and contingent liability related to failing to meet the standard of Free Prior Informed Consent." said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

The groups have reached successful agreements with banks on similar proposals, including Bank of Montreal (BMO) and The Toronto-Dominion Bank. After engagement with BCGEU and UBCIC, BMO agreed to modify its Human Rights statement in addition to enhancing its due diligence for FPIC concerns and FPIC education as first steps towards operationalizing FPIC.

The RBC AGM takes place on April 5, 2023 in Saskatoon. Representatives from BCGEU and UBCIC will present the shareholder proposal in person.

Background materials:


For media inquiries, please contact:

Emma Pullman, BCGEU Capital Stewardship Officer, [email protected]
Ellena Neel, UBCIC Communications Manager, [email protected]

About BCGEU: The B.C. General Employees' Union represents over 85,000 workers in almost every community and economic sector in British Columbia. Under BCGEU's capital stewardship strategy, the union has submitted shareholder proposals at some of Canada's largest companies and has succeeded in achieving strong commitments on ESG issues.

About UBCIC: The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is a political advocacy organization that represents over 120 First Nations in British Columbia. The UBCIC works to uphold Indigenous sovereignty, promote self-determination, and advance Indigenous peoples' rights.



UWU/MoveUP