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August 12, 2022

BCGEU serves strike notice on provincial government - BC General Employees' U...

BCGEU serves strike notice on provincial government

BURNABY, B.C. (Coast Salish Territories)
The bargaining committee representing 33,000 members of the BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) who work for the provincial government issued 72-hours' strike notice this afternoon. The B.C. public service bargaining unit will be in a legal position to take job action as of 2:46 p.m., Monday, August 15. 

The union will not be releasing details about the job action at this time.

The most recent collective agreement between the union and the Public Service Agency (PSA) expired on April 1, 2022. Negotiations for a new collective agreement started on February 8. Bargaining reached impasse on April 6, and union members voted 95% in favour of job action on June 22. The parties met again in July but talks quickly broke down.

Earlier this week, the PSA invited the union back to the bargaining table. Exploratory discussions were held, and the bargaining committee unanimously decided a return to the table would not be fruitful at this time.

"Our members have been crystal clear since day one that their priority this round of bargaining was cost of living protection for their wages," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president and chair of the union's public service bargaining committee. "The bottom line is they're not asking for anything that MLAs don't already have. The strike vote in June and issuing strike notice today is a message to government that our members are serious."

For more information on BCGEU bargaining please visit


Media contact: BCGEU Communications, [email protected]


July 20, 2022

New polling shows that a majority of British Columbians support stronger inve...

Poll also shows a plurality of support for land value capture tax to fund affordable housing
Burnaby - A Research Co. poll has found that a majority of people in British Columbia support progressive policies to address the housing affordability crisis. The poll was commissioned by the B.C. General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) as part of Affordable BC – the union’s ongoing campaign to address housing affordability.

The soaring cost of housing is the single biggest component of the affordability crisis in B.C. This poll showed that an overwhelming number of British Columbians believe all levels of government need to do more to address this crisis – with 78 per cent, 81 per cent, and 73 per cent respectively saying that the federal, provincial, and municipal governments need to do more.
“While high inflation is now affecting economies worldwide, years of inflated land values in B.C. have created the housing crisis we have today,” said Paul Finch, BCGEU treasurer and chair of the union’s Affordable BC campaign. “This polling underlines what has become a divide in our society – between creditors profiting on the housing market and working people who must pay significant portions of their income on rents and mortgages. Unless we take action now, what is increasingly becoming a generational gap will only grow.”
The poll’s findings include the following:

  • 73 per cent of people in British Columbia support stronger investments in public housing.
  • 67 per cent support mandatory municipal inclusionary zoning policies – where a set number of below-market rate housing units are required when properties are up-zoned for development.
  • 62 per cent support tying the provincial cap on rent increases to units rather than individual tenancies – also known as vacancy control.
  • 47 per cent support land value taxation to recover and reinvest land value increases that result from public investments.

“All levels of government can implement proven solutions to make our communities more affordable but year after year they fail to take the action needed to make a difference,” said Kari Michaels, BCGEU executive vice-president. “Public support for expanded housing affordability measures is strong and BCGEU members are working with community allies to urge action on proven solutions now.”

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines housing as “affordable” if it costs less than 30 per cent of a household’s pre-tax income. Among those who are paying rent or a mortgage, more than half of respondents spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. Of those who do not own their homes, 50 per cent of respondents do not believe that homeownership is achievable for them.

Recognizing that wages cannot keep up with runaway housing costs, the BCGEU’s Affordable BC campaign was launched in 2017 after members directed their union to push for housing affordability at the 2017 convention. Since then, the BCGEU members have engaged with experts to research and develop housing policy solutions that, if implemented by local and provincial governments, will make housing in communities across B.C. more affordable.

Read the Affordable BC Plan here:

Results are based on an online study conducted from June 29 to July 1, 2022, among 804 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 percentage points, nineteen

Link to Factum
Link to Data Tables
About BCGEU: 
BCGEU is one of the largest unions in British Columbia, with over 85,000 members in almost every community and economic sector in the province.

For more information contact: [email protected]


July 04, 2022

Preparations for public service strike escalate as talks break down - BC Gene...

July 4, 2022

Preparations for public service strike escalate as talks break down

– After three days of positive public service negotiations last week, talks between the BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) and the B.C. government's Public Service Agency (PSA) broke down this morning. 
Last week, the BCGEU's public service bargaining committee developed a creative proposal that included cost of living adjustments (COLA) and wage protection from inflation, while working within the fiscal framework of the government's most recent wage proposal. Instead of matching union moves to reach a deal, the government came back to the table this morning with an unacceptable "take it or leave it" approach and refused to counter the union's offer.
"To say we are disappointed is an understatement: despite our best efforts to bridge the gap, government has refused to table a proposal that meets our members' key demand of cost-of-living protection," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President and chair of the Public Service Bargaining Committee. "Our members have told us since the beginning of this round of bargaining that they would not ratify a deal which did not address the increasing cost of living."
The provincial government's revised wage proposal, tabled last week, failed to meet the needs and priorities that our members – 33,000 members in the public service bargaining unit – identified, and would result in what amounts to a wage cut. 
"We were surprised that the employer was unwilling to come back to the table with a counteroffer," said Smith. "Our union's revised wage proposal is within the monetary framework that government has laid out, and yet the employer was not willing to budge, notwithstanding over $16 billion in unallocated reserves in their most recent fiscal plan."
In the meantime, the BCGEU will be planning strategic, targeted job action and finalizing essential services with the assistance of the Labour Relations Board.
The BCGEU is the first of many public sector unions to bargain with the provincial government in 2022. In total, almost 400,000 public sector workers have agreements that will, or already have, expire this year.

Media contact: BCGEU Communications, [email protected], 604-291-9611


July 04, 2022

Preparations for public service strike escalate as talks break down - BC Gene...

After three days of positive negotiations last week, your bargaining committee was surprised and disappointed that despite our best efforts to bridge the gap, your employer – the B.C. government through the Public Service Agency (PSA) – has refused to table a proposal that meets your key demand of cost-of-living protection.

Talks between your bargaining committee and the employer broke down this morning because the employer refused to engage in further negotiations.

Last week, your bargaining committee developed a creative proposal that addressed what you said you needed, including cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) and wage protection from inflation. We agreed to the employer proposal for a three-year term for a new collective agreement. We also tabled a wage proposal that attempts to work within the fiscal framework of the most recent employer proposal. Instead of matching union moves to reach a deal, the government came back to the table this morning with an unacceptable "take it or leave it" approach and refused to counter our offer.

Their revised wage proposal, tabled last week, failed to meet the needs and priorities that our members– you and the 33,000 other members in the public service – identified for us. 

Your bargaining committee recognized that you would not accept this: you've told us all along that you would not ratify a deal that did not include cost-of-living protections. Ironically, while the provincial government is refusing to give public service workers COLA protections, MLAs have legislated themselves COLA protections.

Our union's revised wage proposal is within the monetary framework that government has laid out, and yet the employer was not willing to budge notwithstanding over $16 billion in unallocated reserves in their current fiscal plan.

Next steps:

As you are likely aware, nearly 95 per cent of you voted in favour of striking for a fair collective agreement that includes cost-of-living adjustments. 

What will happen in the meantime?

  • We will be redoubling our efforts to finalize essential services
  • We will be planning strategic targeted job action
  • For now, your collective agreement remains in place. That means you will continue working as usual until you hear otherwise from your bargaining committee.

Essential service mediated negotiations with the assistance of the Labour Relations Board continue tomorrow.

As always, your bargaining committee remains committed to getting a fair deal. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and get back to the bargaining table as soon as government comes to us with a serious wage proposal that meets your needs. 

We remain united in our commitment to negotiate a deal that members will want to ratify. Our members deserve it, and government can afford it. In the meantime, strike preparations will be ramping up.

In solidarity,

Your BCGEU Public Service Bargaining Committee
Stephanie Smith, President
Paul Finch, Treasurer
Judy Phipps, Executive Vice President
Dean Purdy, Vice President - Component 1
Kusam Doal, Vice President - Component 5
Judy Fox-McGuire, Vice President - Component 6
Kayla Woodruff, Member at Large - Component 6
Maria Middlemiss, Vice President - Component 12
Matt Damario, Component 12
Robert Davis, Vice President - Component 20
Michael Eso, Secretary and Lead Negotiator
Lisa Lane, Support Staff

Download PDF of notice here


July 01, 2022

Congratulations to the 2022 BCGEU Scholarship Winners. - BC General Employees...

The BCGEU is pleased to support our 2022 scholarship recipients in their continuing education.

Click here for 2022 winners

(Winners will be mailed a letter with instructions on how to claim their scholarship).


This year, applicants were asked to write an essay on one of five topics:


  1. The BC provincial government recently passed legislation for paid sick leave for all workers. Do you think this legislation provides adequate protection for all workers? What changes would improve this provision?

  2. The current state of the world poses many challenges-from climate change, pandemics, war, racism, poverty, homelessness, and violence. It can feel overwhelming. Tell us why you have hope for the future. How can a democratic labour movement bring forward these changes? What is the role of workers in creating a different world?

  3. Tell us about a recent union action that inspired you (job action, strike, membership drive). What did you learn? How can those lessons be applied to create change for workers?

  4. What changes or resources can employers and governments provide to support the good health of workers and their families? What systemic changes are needed in workplaces, schools, and governments to support the mental and physical health of our communities?

  5. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action were released in 2015. In the past seven years, little significant action has been taken by governments. What steps should be taken to move this process forward in a meaningful and impactful way? What Call to Action do you believe should be prioritized and why?


You can read some of the top winning essays below: 

· Jasmine Burguillos

· Amy de Boer

· Tesnim Mtiraoui

· Kaia Nitchie


June 22, 2022

Nearly 95 per cent of BCGEU’s public service members vote in favour of strike...

Nearly 95 per cent of BCGEU's public service members vote in favour of strike in their fight for a fair contract

Employer bends before votes are counted and asks union to return to bargaining

BURNABY, B.C. – Hundreds of BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) activists have pressured their employer to return to negotiations by organizing the union's biggest ever strike vote for 33,000 members in the public service. Today ballots were counted, and an overwhelming 94.6 per cent of voters said they are prepared to strike for a fair collective agreement.

"I couldn't be happier with this strong result," says Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU and chair of the union's bargaining committee. "But it was the lead-up - the five weeks of intensive organizing, pop-up voting sites and mail-in ballot-collecting - that really forced the public service agency to change its tune."

Between May 16 and June 22, BCGEU members employed with the PSA – with the support of BCGEU staff – embarked on an ambitious member outreach drive to ensure everyone in the bargaining unit could cast their ballot. As the vote wrapped up their employer suddenly invited BCGEU back to bargaining. Negotiations will resume on Monday, June 27, in Vancouver.

"This vote was a massive undertaking, and just by participating in it, our members clearly made waves," says Smith. "The voting results drove their point home and sent a strong message to the employer that their staff stand behind their demands, including cost of living protection for wages. We'll see how well the employer was listening when we return to bargaining next week."

As inflation continues to skyrocket – reaching 8.1 per cent in B.C. today – it erodes workers' spending power. Cost of living protections for wages has become a key issue for all workers, including the public service. Members of their bargaining unit are employees of direct government, including wildfire fighters, social workers, sheriffs and correctional officers, administrative staff, employees in BC Liquor and Cannabis stores and warehouses, as well as conservation officers, employees who do field and lab work in the realm of environmental monitoring, and more.

From the moment bargaining for their collective agreement began, members said that COLA was a must for the province to continue recruiting and retaining the qualified staff needed to keep our province running.

"Our province was in an affordability crisis before the pandemic and before inflation started to skyrocket last year," says Smith. "Any wage offer that doesn't include COLA protection is a wage cut, and no worker should have to accept a pay cut."

The public service strike vote sends a message of solidarity to hundreds of thousands of other public sector workers who are, or soon will be, in bargaining including staff at addiction treatment centres, group homes, community health, seniors' care, homes for persons with developmental disabilities, and more.

"A win for the BCGEU's public service members is a win for every public sector worker in B.C.," Smith says, "This vote will empower all of them to fight for COLA language."

Smith adds that she is hopeful the PSA's decision to resume negotiations means they're prepared to table a serious offer. "Our goal has always been to get a deal at the bargaining table. But if the employer is not fair and reasonable, members are prepared to action their strike vote in the future."

The BCGEU is the first of many public sector unions to bargain with the government in 2022. In total, almost 400,000 public sector workers have agreements that will, or already have, expire this year.


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


June 16, 2022

United Way Period Promise Campaign - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

To: All Area 01 BCGEU Members

WHAT: Period Promise: Fill the bus

WHEN: June 25, 2022, between 10 am and 3 pm, at Tillicum Mall

Please help us help the United Way with their Period Promise: Fill the Bus Campaign! The United Way Southern Vancouver Island's Period Promise campaign is a cornerstone of the good works we do with our partners in the labour movement. We are hoping BCGEU leaders and members will want to join our efforts to fill a BC Transit bus with unopened boxes of tampons, pads and other menstrual hygiene products for distribution to community agencies across our region.

The United Way campaign was launched on May 28, International Menstrual Hygiene Day and will run until June 25, 2022.  Period poverty is much more common in our community than you would think. Half of all people who menstruate say that they have struggled to purchase products for themselves at some time in their life, and more than a quarter have gone through a period without having any products to support them.

Donations can be brought to the United Way Southern Vancouver Island office at 201-633 Courtney St, OR you can bring them down to our Fill the Bus event on Saturday, June 25. Products collected will be distributed to United Way-funded agencies.



June 14, 2022

All Area 01 BCGEU Members 2022 Pride Day Parade and Festival - BC General Emp...

The BCGEU is committed to advancing equity and human rights for everyone. Please come out and support the 2022 Pride Day Parade and Festival!

Look for the Victoria Labour Council and BCGEU Banner!

Join the Pride Festival at MacDonald Park in James Bay after the parade (starting at 11 a.m.) for an afternoon of festivities with live bands, children's entertainment, community groups,  drag performances, food fair and beer garden!

This year, the parade will take a new route that marches over the Johnson Street Bridge, south on Wharf Street, before turning onto Government, Belleville and Menzies Streets. With safety in mind, the parade will not proceed to MacDonald Park. Instead, parade floats will unload in the Robbins parking lot (The Q Lot) at Menzies off of Kingston and exit onto Superior Streets. Marchers can carry on down a designated route that will take them to the fully fenced MacDonald Park entrance. The entrance is located on Niagara Street and Oswego Street.


In solidarity,

Your Area 01 Cross Component Committee

Download PDF of notice here

June 13, 2022

Investors join union in plea for equity firm to set clear emissions-reduction...

Investors join union in plea for equity firm to set clear emissions-reduction targets

BCGEU celebrates strong first shareholder vote at Brookfield Asset Management AGM after launching ambitious climate action campaign

BURNABY – At the annual meeting of shareholders, over 17% of Brookfield (TSX:BAM.A) Class A shareholders voted in favour of a shareholder proposal asking Brookfield to have its largest subsidiaries set clear emissions reductions goals in line with the Paris Agreement by 2025. The vote result comes after Brookfield refused to meet with proponent of the proposal, the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU). Brookfield also denied the union the opportunity to personally introduce and present the proposal at the June 10 meeting, as is customary for the presentation of such proposals at shareholder meetings.

"We hoped to engage with Brookfield about meaningful climate solutions, but instead the company chose to undermine shareholder rights and refused to meet with us. Brookfield investors are clearly concerned about climate risk and want to see firm climate action goals. We hope this vote pushes the company to take action. We will be closely monitoring the situation and may consider refiling this proposal."

Brookfield Asset Management has committed to achieving a net-zero portfolio by 2050, yet it does not require the company where it holds a 64 per cent stake, Brookfield Business Partners (BBU), to officially report reduction targets that would help meet this goal. This is a concerning oversight.

Currently, neither Brookfield affiliate BBU nor Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (BIP) disclose any emissions reduction targets, even though Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) found that Brookfield assumes a high climate risk exposure because of its heavy investment in fossil-fuels. Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis recommended that Brookfield shareholders vote in favour of BCGEU's proposal, calling the proposal "reasonably crafted" and "in line with the Company's stated commitments".

The BCGEU believes emissions reduction targets from BBU and BIP will become more pressing following Brookfield's recent disclosure of its intention to split its asset management business from its proprietary assets business. Once this split is complete, Brookfield's financial results will become increasingly dependent on the contributions of BBU and BIP.

BCGEU democratically decided to divest from fossil-fuels in 2015, and the union launched its responsible investment program to leverage investor power to not only to protect and grow members' assets but also to push portfolio companies to take progressive action on issues that matter to working people including on climate and enhanced corporate governance.

"In a world where working people often feel powerless against mounting ecological disaster, BCGEU members are showing their neighbours that we do have a say in our future. We can course correct, and we can pressure big players to do the right thing and put money where it will thrive – in sustainable investments, not volatile markets that hurt investors, workers, and the planet," said Smith.

BCGEU's shareholder program has pushed RBC to stop doing business with the United States private prison industry, Saputo to reduce its food waste by 50 per cent by 2035, and Thomson Reuters to adopt the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

View the BCGEU's investor letter here.

The company's response to the proposal can be found in its management circular on page 79.



About BCGEU: BCGEU is one of the largest unions in British Columbia, with over 85,000 members in almost every community and economic sector in the province. 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.