December 12, 2018

Casino workers negotiate new contracts - BCGEU

(Burnaby/New Westminster) Over 1,200 members of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) working at Gateway's Grand Villa Casino in Burnaby and Starlight Casino in New Westminster voted to accept new collective agreements putting them among the highest paid casino workers in the province.
"These workers stuck together to set the industry standard," said BCGEU Treasurer Paul Finch.
"Our members told Gateway they needed to do better this time and, in the end, they achieved solid contracts with significant wage increases and many other ground-breaking provisions."
The four-year contracts include a weighted average of 15 percent wage increases over the life of the agreement with some of the lowest-paid workers receiving over 20 percent increases.
"In this round, the bargaining committee prioritized lifting wages for lower-paid workers," said Finch.
"With the cost of living rising amid a housing crisis across the province it is vital that employers, especially in the highly-profitable casino sector, pay wages that allow all their employees to live where they work."
The contracts also include improvements to sick leave, a benefits plan for part-time employees, accommodations and leave for victims of domestic violence and a new process to deal with abuse from patrons.
"There is still a lot of work to do. Many casino workers do not have a union and some are paid close to minimum wage with uncertain and unfair working conditions," said Finch. 
BCGEU represents over 800 workers at Gateway's Grand Villa Casino and over 450 at Starlight Casino. BCGEU members work in table games, as slot attendants, cashiers, in the count room, kitchen, restaurants, security, guest services and maintenance.


December 11, 2018

BCGEU presents member’s recommendations to the National Inquiry into missing ...

Tomorrow, I will proudly represent the 77,000 members of the BCGEU at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls. We are the only union in Canada to have legal standing at the Inquiry and I'll be sharing your recommendations directly with the commissioners.

My journey here to Ottawa began on the convention floor in 2014 when a resolution was passed to call for a national inquiry and then reaffirmed in 2017 with a number of resolutions that guided your union to participate and to ensure that the Inquiry is extensive, authentic, complete.

Since 2016, the Inquiry has heard from hundreds of families and loved ones of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, national and grassroots organizations, experts and researchers. Tomorrow, they will hear from you and the thousands of working people in our province that work every day to provide support and services to Indigenous women and girls.

I am humbled and honoured to share our report Naut'sa mawt sqwaluwun: Working together with one mind and one heart, which I will be presenting as part of your union's recommendations to the National Inquiry.

In 2018, we held a series of facilitated dialogues in Victoria, Prince George and Vancouver with members from diverse sectors who shared their experiences, wisdom and their hopes for the future. I wanted to hear about what is working, what is not working in our workplaces and our communities to inform this report and our recommendations to the commissioners.

We heard stories from communities that have faced heartbreak and front-line workers that are stretched to the brink. But we also heard of emerging solutions and innovative work that is happening on the ground to find solutions to uplift Indigenous women and girls.

Naut'sa mawt sqwaluwun: Working together with one mind and one heart, is a direct result of those dialogues with members. Every page of this report is filled with your courage and commitment.

I want to also give a special acknowledgement to Keith Cameron, the union's Aboriginal Liaison, who has built relationships with Indigenous allies and friends that are so critical to continue the hard work of reconciliation.

You can watch my presentation to the National Inquiry live on CPAC tomorrow, December 11th at 12:30 PT.

I will be bringing all of you with me to the inquiry and as we continue together on this journey of understanding, healing, hope and reconciliation.

In solidarity,


Stephanie Smith

BCGEU President



Your union is committed to building a better future for Indigenous communities in British Columbia. As part of this commitment, we support:

Illustration by Avril Orloff


December 10, 2018

BCGEU commends report calling for overhaul of system to support children with...

The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) commends the report Alone and Afraid: Lessons learned from the ordeal of a child with special needs and his family released by the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) today, and their 11 recommendations to overhaul British Columbia's system of services to support children with complex needs.

The report details the difficult and heartbreaking story of one child with special needs that went virtually "unseen" by the care system for years and suffered profound neglect as a result. The Representative calls on the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, to resolve the systemic failures that led to this case – and to help prevent other families from enduring a similar experience.

The report recognizes the challenges faced by front-line social workers and that "their ability to conduct their duties is only as strong as the resources available to them." This statement aligns with the BCGEU's ongoing work to advocate for increased resources and support for social workers who face untenable workloads in the sector.

"Chronic staffing shortages and workload pressures within MCFD and among front-line social workers have led to dysfunction in the care system for too long" says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "We must commit the resources necessary to support those providing care in order to protect vulnerable children and youth. The BCGEU formed a Joint Working Group with MCFD in 2014 following a recommendation made in an earlier RCY report, and we welcome the opportunity to work with the ministry to take action on the findings in today's report."

The need for a service delivery model that enables information-sharing between service providers, as well as culturally appropriate supports for Indigenous children in care, a service the BCGEU has long advocated for, are also highlighted by the Representative.

Read the RCY report:

Alone and Afraid: Lessons learned from the ordeal of a child with special needs and his family

Read related BCGEU reports:

Closing the Circle (2015)

Choose Children (2014)



December 06, 2018

Members need your help on the picket line  - BCGEU

As you may know fellow BCGEU members working at Comox Valley Seniors Village or Casa Loma are currently on strike in Courtenay. Today I received reports that our members' safety has been threatened on the picket line and we are quickly mobilizing to provide additional support to ensure their continued safety.

Can you help?
Picket captains will review safety protocols with all members on the picket line, but there is strength in numbers. If you are able, please come down to support your fellow members as they exercise their right to strike for a fair collective agreement! Support is most needed when it is dark.

4640 Headquarters Road, Courtenay, B.C.

When:24 hours

In recent months, union members from all over the province have been coming together to support each other. Just last weekend the BCGEU, the BC Fed, other unions, and concerned citizens came together in support of Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) in support of a national day of action and their right to strike. This is the meaning of solidarity.

Let's stick together and keep each other safe as we fight for fairness and respect!

In solidarity,
Stephanie Smith
BCGEU president




December 06, 2018

Review suggests no reason to discipline guards in death of prisoner, union sa...

The vice-president of the union that represents B.C. prison guards says his members followed policy the day an inmate died in the back of a corrections van.

Dean Purdy of the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union said in a memo to his members that a government review has already determined that "no discipline is required" in the death of Alex Joseph.





December 05, 2018

BCGEU applauds bold, inclusive plan for emissions reduction and clean growth ...

The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) applauds the B.C. government's release today of CleanBC which outlines plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent compared to 2007 levels by 2030.

Through a sector-by-sector approach focusing on transportation, buildings and industry, government seeks to work collaboratively with stakeholders to foster economic growth and create new job opportunities as the province reduces its emissions. This includes working with the BC Green Party and the Business Council of British Columbia, representing a truly bipartisan approach across different groups and communities.

"Government has presented a bold, ambitious plan that marks a significant step towards a green economy," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Through consultations with environmental groups, businesses, Indigenous groups, and communities, the CleanBC plan takes the kind of collaborative approach that we will need to make progress on our climate targets."

The overall design of CleanBC aims to ensure that no one is left behind. This includes introducing programs to help British Columbians reduce their energy costs, afford cleaner vehicles and access training and re-training for the jobs of the future – particularly in the trades and the construction industry. As British Columbians continue to deal with the impacts of climate change such as the wildfires that have grown in intensity, the plan aims to ensure B.C. communities are safe and economically resilient. Finally, the plan includes meaningful collaboration with Indigenous peoples through programs that will support self-sufficiency.

While reducing B.C.'s emissions will indeed require investment, government has been financially prudent in their planning. CleanBC is fully funded with program specific details forthcoming in the 2019/2020 Budget.

In the coming days, the BCGEU will conduct an in-depth review of government's CleanBC plan, particularly to examine plans relative to environmental resolutions passed at the union's 2017 constitutional convention, as well as recommendations put forward by the BCGEU's environment committee.


November 29, 2018

Stand with postal workers this Saturday in support of labour rights - BCGEU

The protected rights of all unionized workers in Canada are being challenged right now in the Canadian Union of Postal Workers' (CUPW) current struggle to achieve a collective agreement. Canada Post workers have taken action over health and safety issues, exhaustive and unsustainable workload issues, and inequities between urban and rural mail carriers. 

Entering their second month of rotating strikes, the federal government ignored postal workers' fundamental right to free collective bargaining and the right to strike, and legislated these workers back to work late Monday night. This is unacceptable and we condemn the unconstitutionality of the federal government's back to work legislation. It's an attack on the protected rights of all unionized workers in Canada to withdraw their labour in support of achieving a collective agreement.
In solidarity, the BCGEU has offered a $3 million interest-free loan to support the CUPW's struggle to achieve a collective agreement. A national day of action is also being held this Saturday December 1st to stand with postal workers across Canada, and to call on the federal government to overturn this unconstitutional law.
This legislation hurts all of us and we must stand collectively against it. If you are in Vancouver, Victoria or Prince George, we hope you can join us. Find more details here on an event in your area.
In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith




November 29, 2018

The BCGEU congratulates Cronk and Skidmore on election to lead BC Fed - BCGEU

VANCOUVER – The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) congratulates Laird Cronk and Sussanne Skidmore on their election today as the new president and secretary-treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour (BC Fed) at the federation's 58th convention.

Cronk and Skidmore bring extensive experience from both the private and public sectors of the labour movement to their roles. And as a representative of the public service, Skidmore's leadership will emphasize the need to strengthen B.C.'s public service at a time when the provincial government is already making strides in this direction. The pair have also committed to leading a unified labour movement by turning the page on past divisions.

"Two deeply committed labour activists with complementary experience, Laird and Sussanne will make a truly excellent team," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "This news is bitter-sweet for the BCGEU family as Sussanne moves on from her position as one of our union's executive vice presidents, but we wish her every success and look forward to Laird and Sussanne's leadership in advancing the labour movement in B.C." 

A BCGEU member for more than 20 years, Skidmore has served in nearly every elected position in her union local, from steward to executive, and has been a BCGEU executive vice president since 2014. A well-known social justice activist and labour leader, Skidmore has served as a member of the equity and human rights committee and the BCGEU women's committee where she has been a voice for fairness and equality within the labour movement. She has also sat on both the provincial public service bargaining and component bargaining committees. 

"It's with much gratitude to the BCGEU for the opportunities and experiences I have gained that I look forward to the new challenges ahead in my role at the BC Fed," says outgoing BCGEU executive vice president and secretary-treasurer-elect of the BC Federation of Labour, Sussanne Skidmore. 

As the largest affiliate union of the BC Fed, members and staff of the BCGEU thank both Irene Lanzinger and Aaron Ekman for their dedication to making life better for all working people in British Columbia during their time leading the federation. Ekman was elected secretary-treasurer in 2014 and Lanzinger was first elected secretary-treasurer in 2010 and then president in 2014.

"As the first woman president of the BC Fed, Irene redefined what is possible for all women leaders in B.C.'s labour movement," says Smith. 

The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in B.C. with over 77,000 members and is an affiliate of the BC Federation of Labour, which represents over 500,000 members from unions across the province. 

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


November 28, 2018

BCGEU offers multi-million dollar loan to CUPW - BCGEU

The leadership of the BCGEU has approved a $3-million interest-free loan for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to call on if needed to support their ongoing struggle to achieve a collective agreement. Thousands of postal workers were ordered back to work earlier this week following more than a month of rotating strikes.

"We condemn the unconstitutionality of the federal government's back to work legislation," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "It's an attack on the protected rights of all unionized workers in Canada to withdraw their labour in support of achieving a collective agreement. This legislation hurts all of us and we will stand collectively against it."

The BCGEU has 77,000 members in B.C. We are a component of NUPGE, the National Union of Public and General Employees.