September 13, 2018

Strike continues as Gateway Casinos refuse to release company financials - BCGEU

Union cites lack of transparency as reason for breakdown in talks 

(Kelowna) Mediated talks between Gateway Casinos and over 675 members of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) in the Thompson-Okanagan broke off last week after the company refused to release financial information to back up claims that they cannot afford the workers' wage proposals.

"Gateway says they can't afford to pay our members in the Okanagan the living wage we are asking for but, when we asked them to prove it by showing the mediator the company's financials, they refused," said BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. "How can our members trust Gateway's claims when they refuse to let a third-party mediator verify them?"

The mediator called both parties back to the table for four days of talks from September 4 – 7 but they were unable to reach a deal.

"Gateway's most recent offer is neither fair nor reasonable. It would keep our members working in their casinos in the Thompson-Okanagan earning well below wages casino workers are making on the coast for the same work and it would mean most of our members' wages would still be hovering around minimum wage by the second year of the agreement," said Smith.

"Life in the Thompson-Okanagan is expensive and is about to become even less affordable with a potential 4.5% rent increase across the province. Our members working at Gateway Casinos simply cannot afford to live in the region on the wages the company is offering" said Smith.

Over 675 BCGEU members working at four Gateway Casinos in the Thompson-Okanagan walked off the job on Friday, June 29 after mediation broke down with their employer. Workers are fighting for living wages, better working conditions and respect on the job.

BCGEU represents staff spread across Gateway's four casinos in the Thompson-Okanagan: Playtime Casino in Kelowna, Lake City Casino in Vernon, and Cascades Casinos in Kamloops and Penticton. BCGEU members work in table games, as slot attendants, cashiers, in the count room, kitchen, security, guest services and maintenance.



September 12, 2018

BCGEU demands WorkSafe investigate new assaults on Forensics hospital staff -...

BURNABY – The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union reports that four staff members at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam have been injured in another violent attack by a patient this week and the union is demanding that WorkSafeBC investigate security measures at the facility.

BCGEU members report that two health care workers (HCW) and two nurses were attacked by a patient on September 11, with one HCW being taken to hospital with severe injuries.

"It's outrageous that our members and other workers are being assaulted on a weekly basis at the Forensic hospital and the employer is doing nothing about it," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "This is the textbook definition of an unsafe workplace.

"The bottom line is that every working person in this province deserves a safe workplace and every employer owes their employees a safe workplace," says Smith. "The BCGEU is demanding that WorkSafeBC step in and investigate worker safety in the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital and order the employer to do the right thing.

"WorksafeBC has issued 57 safety orders at Forensics in the past 5 years, along with 102 inspection reports documenting the employer's failure to protect its workers," says Smith. "The employer obviously is not listening, and we believe it's time for the B.C. Government to take over management of this facility."



September 12, 2018

Area 01 Young Workers Committee - BCGEU

We are excited to introduce ourselves to you as your Area 01 Young Worker Committee.

Locals 101, 701, 1001, 1201, 1701 and 2001 do not yet have a Young Worker as a representative of their Local Executive. If you are from one of these Locals, we encourage you to connect with your Executive to see how you can become more involved.

We are in progress of planning our first BCGEU Area 01 Young Worker event and are hoping you will be able to come out. More info and an RSVP will follow.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 18 at 5:00 pm at the BCGEU Area Office located at 2994 Douglas Street. If you are interested in helping out or just want to come by and see what we are doing, please let us know as we usually have a light dinner/snack with our meetings.

Stay tuned for upcoming emails announcing our first event!

In solidarity,

Area 01 Young Worker Committee

Jeff Morgan

BCGEU Staff Representative

Download pdf of notice here

September 06, 2018

Union representing correctional officers calls for action after alleged assau...

The BC Government and Service Employees (BCGEU) union is asking for a change to better protect correctional officers and sheriffs who are escorting prisoners from correctional centers.

The call comes after the alleged assault of a correctional officer at Vancouver General Hospital on Aug. 28.





September 05, 2018

Union calls for gov't intervention after spike in staff assaults at Coquitlam...

Two unions that represent workers at Coquitlam's Forensic Psychiatric Hospital are sounding the alarm over a recent spike in assaults, blaming management for a "systemic failure" to respond.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees Union said that there have been 21 staff injuries committed by patients to its members alone, between May and August of this year.





August 31, 2018

An Open Letter from BCGEU President Stephanie Smith on Labour Day - BCGEU

As a mother and an early childhood educator l know that for many British Columbians Labour Day represents the end of summer and the beginning of school. But as a union activist the first Monday in September represents much more. Labour Day is an opportunity to celebrate working people: the ones who built our province; the ones who take care of our families and our communities every day; and the ones who will create the healthy, inclusive, prosperous society we want in the future.

Labour Day is a moment to appreciate how much workers have accomplished since Canada's first Labour Day event in 1872-when unions were still illegal-and since Labour Day was declared a national holiday in 1894. Everything from paid vacations and sick leave to occupational health and safety regulations and protections from bullying, harassment and discrimination in the workplace are part of our current reality because of the efforts and sacrifices of working people. 

Labour Day is also a moment to acknowledge how far we have left to go to create a society where all working people are truly respected and protected. There is still progress to be made, and our ability to create the future we want depends on the actions we take right now.

Representing more than 77,000 members in every community in British Columbia and every sector of our province's economy the BCGEU is always working to create that future not just for our members but for all working people. And this year our work has paid off: We grew our membership-welcoming thousands of new members in sectors like childcare, seniors' care and casinos and solidifying our position as one of the fastest growing unions in Canada; we ratified collective agreements covering more than two-thirds of our existing members-including an agreement that set a new industry standard for wages, benefits and working conditions in BC's extremely profitable casino industry; we spent countless hours travelling the province to learn about the issues our members face in their workplaces and to meet with their employers, elected officials and policy makers to address those issues; and we made substantial progress in our successful advocacy campaigns to improve affordability in childcare and housing to benefit all working people.

The BCGEU has a lot to celebrate this Labour Day. But our union, and BC's entire labour movement, also have a lot to do. Working people are finding it harder than ever to make ends meet: Rising costs for necessities like transportation, housing and childcare mean wages don't go as far as they used to. The nature of work is changing: Call it the sharing economy or the gig economy, what it means for working people is low wages, no benefits and no job security. And we continue to see a shift from family-supporting full-time jobs to lower-wage, less secure, more precarious employment in a range of sectors. All of this adds up to a robust agenda for working people and their supporters in the labour movement, elected office, community organizations, and in communities. 

The lesson of Labour Day is the power of solidarity. History shows us that when working people stand together and fight together, we win. The workers of tomorrow are counting on us to come through for them as our predecessors did for us. And this Labour Day I am full of optimism for what we can achieve together. So, what can you do to support working people this Labour Day and beyond?

  • Vote. Local election day in BC is October 20th and a federal election is coming in 2019. Do your research and support candidates who are tackling issues that matter to working people-like living wages and affordability in housing, transportation and childcare-and candidates who are committed to creating laws and regulations that make it easier for workers to unionize and that protect non-union workers in precarious and non-standard employment.
  • Respect picket lines. Members of the BCGEU in four Okanagan casinos are on strike and will spend this Labour Day on the picket line. If you see picket lines in your community, show your support by talking to the workers to find out how long they've been on strike and what they're fighting for; honking and waving as you drive by; or grabbing a sign and walking with them for a while. But, whatever you do, don't cross the lines.
  • Check out the BCGEU's campaigns website to see what we're working on to make life safer, healthier and more affordable for our members and all working people across BC and what you can do to help.
  • And if you're working in a non-union workplace and want to know more about how joining a union could benefit you and your colleagues, contact us.

In Solidarity,

Stephanie Smith
BCGEU President


August 29, 2018

Assaults at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital highlight failure to provide a safe...

BURNABY – Recent serious assaults on staff by patients at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (FPH) in Coquitlam highlight a disturbing trend that endangers the lives of workers at the facility, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union said today.

"There have been 21 injuries to staff since May of this year, by patients who are at the hospital for committing serious crimes," said BCGEU treasurer Paul Finch. "There has been a clear and willful pattern of neglect on the part of the employer in addressing these real and substantial safety concerns."

In the last 5 years, the Workers' Compensation Board has issued 57 safety orders at Forensics and levied a $171,000 fine, along with 102 WCB inspection reports showing the employer's failure to protect its workers, but little progress has been made to secure the safety of their employees.

Unions have called for an increased security presence in rooms when staff interact with potentially violent patients. However, the newly appointed chief operating officer Connie Coniglio has refused, saying that the presence of security personnel could increase patient anxiety and trigger violent incidents.

"The Workers Compensation Board clearly stated in a March report that the presence of security personnel does not cause violent outbreaks," said Finch. "Workers are being assaulted while treating patients without risk assessments being done, with inadequate security protection. One could make the case that the employer is complicit in these attacks on hospital staff."

The BCGEU has written to the minister, calling on the government to bring the facility back into government service and to properly fund and train a sufficient number of staff at the FPH. The union has also asked the government to ensure that the employer adhere to the Workers Compensation Act and conduct risk assessments on patients, provide adequate security personnel on site and provide funding to fill gaps in risk assessments, including self-defense training for staff.

The BCGEU represents more than 270 members who work at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, with the majority working one-on-one with patients as health care workers, rehabilitation workers and forensic security officers.



August 27, 2018

BCGEU community social services members ratify collective agreement - BCGEU

The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) announced today that its members in the Community Social Services (CSS) sector voted by 85.7 per cent in favour to ratify a new collective agreement. The three-year contract provides significant compensation increases for workers while meeting the government mandate of improving the services British Columbians count on.

CSS consists of three collective agreements: Community Living workers ratified their agreement by 82.3 per cent; General Services ratified by 95.8 per cent; and Indigenous Services ratified by 50.9 per cent. The weighted average ratification vote for all three sub-sectors was 85.7 per cent.

"After 16 years of cuts and wage restraint leading the sector into crisis, this agreement with a government that wants to put people first provides a foundation to build on," says BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. "We are pleased to see substantial gains to support the vital work CSS workers do. However, the low support among the membership for the Indigenous Services contract demonstrates how much more needs to be done. Over the next three years, the union will continue to work with CSS members to further strengthen support for the sector." 

The ratified agreement is the result of negotiations between the 10-union Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA) and the Community Social Services Employers' Association (CSSEA). 

"While our negotiating team did the very best it could, we know there is still some distance to go in getting a deal that receives strong support by all sub-sectors," says BCGEU Vice President, Component 3, Andrea Duncan. "This is the work of our union – to continue making progress and fighting for the wages and working conditions we deserve."

The new collective agreement will be in effect from April 1, 2019 until March 31, 2022.

The BCGEU is the lead union in the sector, representing two-thirds of the unionized community social service workers in British Columbia. These caring professionals provide supports, services and resources to adults and children with developmental disabilities, women and children fleeing violence, Aboriginal families in need, at-risk youth, those with substance addictions, and more.

For more information contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications Officer at 604-719-4713 or



August 20, 2018

Casino workers urge BCLC to investigate Gateway’s operations during strike -...

(Kamloops) Members of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) on strike at Gateway Casinos' four Thompson-Okanagan casinos are gathering at BC Lottery Corporation's (BCLC) head office in Kamloops on Monday, August 20 at 12pm to call upon the regulatory body to investigate whether or not the casinos are operating safely during the strike.

"We've got questions about how Gateway Casinos have been operating their Thompson-Okanagan casinos," said BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. "Based on what our members have witnessed and reports we've heard, it sounds like Gateway hasn't been living up to their obligations under BCLC and provincial gaming laws and regulations during this strike."

In a letter, delivered earlier on Monday, the union asked BCLC to investigate potential irregularities in the casinos' operations witnessed by striking workers since they walked out in late June. The alleged incidents range in seriousness from failing to comply with regulations around ID'ing patrons to a failing to identify what would normally be flagged as suspicious behaviour possibly related to money-laundering.

"At a time when the entire casino industry is supposed to be under increased scrutiny, we believe the BCLC should shut down Gateway's casinos until the company can demonstrate that they are willing and able to operate responsibly," said Smith.

Gateway workers and their union are asking BCLC to investigate specifically whether the casinos are maintaining the security of casino assets at all times, properly safeguarding against corruption and money-laundering, complying with BC's liquor policies, and adequately ensuring the safety of staff and patrons.

Almost 700 BCGEU members working at four Gateway Casinos in the Thompson-Okanagan walked off the job on Friday, June 29 after mediation broke down with their employer. Workers are fighting for living wages, better working conditions and respect on the job.

BCGEU represents staff spread across Gateway's four casinos in the Thompson-Okanagan: Playtime Casino in Kelowna, Lake City Casino in Vernon, and Cascades Casinos in Kamloops and Penticton. BCGEU members work in table games, as slot attendants, cashiers, in the count room, kitchen, security, guest services and maintenance.