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May 05, 2022

Over 70% of Independent Loblaw Shareholders Demand Supplier Audit Transparenc...


Over 70% of Independent Loblaw Shareholders Demand Supplier Audit Transparency

Union-filed shareholder motion earns significant support


Burnaby — Today, at the Loblaw (TSX: L) annual general meeting of shareholders, independent shareholders voted 72% in favour of a shareholder proposal asking for the company to release more information on supplier audits (34% overall). The shareholder proposal was submitted by the B.C. General Employees’ Union (BCGEU), an institutional investor in Loblaw.

Currently, Loblaw only discloses the number of audits it conducts with no additional information. Investors believe that enhanced information is required to ensure supply chain risks are being managed. The two largest proxy advisory firms in the world, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis, both recommended that shareholders vote in favour of BCGEU’s proposal.

BCGEU filed the proposal following concerning supply chain controversies at Loblaw related to forced labour in the Uyghur region of China. In early 2021, Loblaw committed to not source cotton produced the Uyghur Region of China. However, according to shipment data compiled by Dr. Laura Murphy, Professor of Human Rights and Contemporary Slavery at the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University (UK), Loblaw imported textiles from the Uyghur region of China as recently as August 2021. In addition, a CBC investigation found Loblaw has sold tomatoes produced with forced labour.

In response to the AGM results, BCGEU President Stephanie Smith released the following statement:

 “Right now, investors are in the dark about what is going in Loblaw’s supply chain. Our proposal asked a simple question: should Loblaw disclose more information on the results of its audits in line with its peers? Today’s significant vote indicates Loblaw shareholders agree it must. We intend to keep pushing Loblaw to manage risk and protect shareholder value.”

Both Walmart and Tesco disclose more details on the results of those audits than Loblaw.  Gildan reports results of supply chain audits and classification criteria for the results of supply chain data.

Loblaw is majority owned by George Weston Limited and the Weston family.

View the BCGEU shareholder proposal here (page B-2 or 87):

View BCGEU's investor letter brief:


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 such as human rights, racial equity, and executive compensation. The union's strategy has succeeded in achieving strong commitments on ESG issues.















May 04, 2022

Red Dress Day 2022 Events - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

Today the BCGEU recognizes Red Dress Day 

Red Dress day is a day to honour our missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people. This day first began on May 5, 2010 and has taken place annually every year since.

It's a day to raise awareness and give voice to those whose stories have not been heard. We hang red dresses in public and private spaces and also wear red on this day as a symbol of all those who are missing.

Red dress day began as the REDress project started by Métis artist, Jamie Black, to bring attention to the disproportionate number of missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada and United States.

There are many ways to honour the day: wearing red, hanging a red dress, or attending an event near you:



Host: Pacific Association of First Nation Women

Vancouver City Hall

12:00 pm-2:00 pm




Our Womxn Are Sacred Walk

Begins at 10AM

Hallowell and Admirals Roads to Maple Bank





Host: CUPE 728

Bear Creek Park, Surrey BC

Begins at 4:30 pm





Host: Fraser Valley Métis Association

Abbotsford City Hall

32315 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford BC

10:00AM - 6:30PM



Dawson Creek

Time: 5:00 pm

Locations: Dawson Creek Mall Parking lot





Host: Tears to Hope Society

Red Dress Day Run and Walk

Run begins at 8:00 am

Walk begins 6:30 pm-8:00 pm

Chill Soda Shop for both





Location: Burrard and Highway of Tears

Time: Noon-3:00pm







April 30, 2022

Happy May Day – we’re now 85,000 members strong - BC General Employees' Union...

May Day – or International Workers' Day – is a day in which the labour movement around the world comes together to recognize working people's collective power. Only by organizing to protect our collective interests as a class can we shift the balance of power under capitalism.

As we celebrate working people, we're also proud to announce that our union is now 85,000 members strong!

Our union has grown in a number of ways, including: new members organizing with the BCGEU for a voice on the job and the union ensuring seasonal members like wildfire fighters are included in our year-round membership figures.

Now even more workers in B.C. have a means to fight for justice, dignity, and respect at work. And that's certainly something to celebrate!

In just the past year workers at the following workplaces have organized and joined the BCGEU:

  • Options Community Services Society
  • YMCA of Greater Vancouver – Djavad Mowafaghian Child Care Centre
  • Guru Nanak Education Society of BC 
  • First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo – Unitarian Shelter
  • New View Society
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Vancouver – Men's Shelter
  • YMCA of Greater Vancouver - Renfrew Station Child Care
  • Beacon Community Association
  • AgeCare Cariboo Place 
  • UBC Okanagan Residence Life
  • Sooke Family Resources Society

And just last week, 260 new members at Victoria's Our Place Society voted to organize their union with the BCGEU. They provide supportive housing and community-based services at 10 sites to those experiencing poverty and homelessness.

New members are joining the BCGEU all the time and 85,000 is an exciting milestone for our members.

Happy May Day! All power to the workers!


April 29, 2022

Union investor successfully pushes Toronto’s Thomson Reuters to prioritize hu...


Union investor successfully pushes Toronto's Thomson Reuters to prioritize human rights and re-evaluate ICE contracts

Canadian media and data giant to adopt United Nations human rights framework and publish a human rights report after 3-year investor battle

(Burnaby, Canada) Thomson Reuters' enabling of U.S. immigration surveillance prompted the BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)-a minor shareholder-to initiate a multi-year campaign to demand greater human rights due diligence from the Toronto-based company. After three successive shareholder proposals on the issue, the company has agreed to conduct human rights risk assessments on its products and disclose key findings from the assessments starting in the second half of 2022.

As part of its groundbreaking capital stewardship program, the BCGEU filed shareholder proposals in 2020, 2021, and 2022 targeting Thomson Reuters' human rights risk mitigation practices. In 2020, 30% of the company's independent shareholders supported the union's proposal. The next year, independent shareholders' support for the union's proposal more than doubled to more than 70%. The 2021 proposal also won coveted endorsements from both ISS and Glass Lewis, the leading independent governance analysis and proxy voting firms in the world, in addition to high profile institutional investors, lawyers, and human rights experts.

Facing another shareholder vote on the union's proposal in 2022, Thomson Reuters' confirmed it has aligned with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and has commenced a company-wide human rights impact assessment of global operations, products, and services, including studying human rights abuses enabled by the contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In addition, the company announced it had commenced a global ESG materiality assessment.

In response to this announcement, BCGEU President Stephanie Smith released the following statement:

 "This is why our union does capital stewardship the way we do-to force corporations to make progressive changes on the issues that matter to working people. Thomson Reuters would not have taken this action without sustained pressure from BCGEU over the past 3 years, and ongoing work by Mijente and the NoTechForIce campaign. Tackling human rights risk isn't just important for protecting shareholder value, real human beings will be impacted by the results of these audits. This win is for them as much as it is for our union.

 We eagerly await the results of the impact assessment this summer – and expect other data brokers are going to receive similar kinds of pressure from responsible investors in the future. This is just the beginning."

Thomson Reuters contracts with ICE have a total value exceeding $100m USD. The contracts are to provide data brokerage services that help the U.S. agency target undocumented immigrants for detention and deportation. The company, via its Consolidated Lead Evaluation and Reporting (CLEAR) software, amassed data from private and public databases on individuals, like social media information, names, emails, phone data, license plate scans, utility bills, financial information, arrest records, insurance information, employment records, and much more. Thomson Reuters' current biggest ICE contract is to provide Automated License Plate Reader technology to the agency through 2026 (from Vigilant Solutions, a company that has been shown to circumvent sanctuary laws to allow ICE information sharing). These technologies have been directly linked to deportations and raids across the U.S., potentially involving family separation and the detention of immigrants in conditions that violate their human rights.

News reports note that the company does not merely provide off the shelf software, Thomson Reuters employees have fine-tuned target lists and provide those lists to ICE with address changes, credit activities, location, and more.

The software has also been used by Minnesota law enforcement for surveillance on the community, according to new reporting from Buzzfeed News. Minneapolis has been the center of protests in the United States following the May 25 killing of 46-year-old George Floyd by police officers.

Link to Thomson Reuters announcement (found on pages 119-120 of the proxy circular):

Link to 2021 investor letter:

Link to 2020 investor letter:


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.

April 27, 2022

Public service bargaining hits impasse over wage proposals - BC General Emplo...

April 7, 2022


VICTORIA, B.C. – Negotiations between the BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) and the provincial government's Public Service Agency (PSA) reached an impasse this week over an unresolved gap in wage proposals. The current agreement between the parties, which covers more than 33,000 union members, expired on March 31, 2022. 

"Our members have been clear from day one - COLA (cost of living adjustment) protections are the key to a deal this round-and our bargaining committee carried that message to the employer," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president and chair of the union's bargaining committee, "Unfortunately, the employers' revised wage proposal suggests that they haven't yet gotten the message. In fact, what they offered was less than half of COLA."

The union's proposal, tabled on March 8th, was for a two year deal. The first year proposed COLA protection or a 5% general wage increase (whichever is greater). The second year proposed COLA or a 5% general wage increase, which would include a flat rate per hour that would positively impact the lowest wage workers in the public service. The proposal was designed to offer maximum protection for the union's members, protection that is in line with what is currently enjoyed by members of the legislative assembly, while remaining within the government's ability to pay.

"The bottom line is any wage offer that doesn't include COLA is a wage cut and no worker should be expected to take a wage cut-especially not the public service workers who kept our families safe and our province operating throughout all the uncertainty of the last few years."

The BCGEU began preparing for impasse and potential job action weeks ago as a standard part of the bargaining process. That work is ongoing and will include a provincewide member education campaign to ensure all 33,000 members of the union's public service bargaining unit are prepared for a strike vote.

"Our union has a long-standing and very constructive working relationship with the PSA," said Smith. "We've been bargaining agreements and solving problems together for almost 50 years. I'm hopeful that they will get the message and come back to us with an offer our members can ratify."

The BCGEU is the first of several 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.



Contact: [email protected]


April 26, 2022

City of Burnaby Greenlights BCGEU Affordable Housing Project - BC General Emp...

Press contact:
[email protected]

For Immediate Release


City of Burnaby Greenlights BCGEU Affordable Housing Project

 Replicable model could be a gamechanger for tackling housing affordability


Burnaby - Yesterday, Burnaby councillors voted seven to two in favour of a rezoning application brought forward by the BCGEU that had the potential to offer a new model for tackling housing affordability.

"Our union has been working on this project for more than two years," said BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. This vote is a major milestone that brings us one step closer to making our project a reality and we are deeply grateful to Mayor Hurley and councillors Calendino, Dhaliwal, Gu, Hillman, Keithley and Wang for their leadership in supporting our vision."

The project is located on Palm Avenue in a mixed use area north of Royal Oak Skytrain station. The union's plan is to develop a multi-use building with 292 units of housing-at least 50% at below-market affordable rates-as well as a 49-space childcare facility and new office space for the union. The proposal incorporates key design elements based on feedback from the city planning department including an expanded traffic study that ensured the project would not negatively impact existing residents.

The project received overwhelming support at a public hearing on March 29th, with 45 residents showing up in person or on Zoom to speak in favour, and hundreds more sending letters of support to council.

"For the BCGEU, this project was driven by the vision of our membership," said Smith. "It's an opportunity to give back to a community we have been a part of for over 50 years. It's a chance to make real progress on affordable housing-an issue we have been actively engaged in for a long time. And Burnaby residents sent a clear message to council at the public hearing: they want to live in a progressive, affordable, inclusive city and they see projects like ours as the way to get there."

The BCGEU's rationale for the project stemmed from concerns that housing costs are far outpacing wage increases labour unions can bargain for. BCGEU members have passed multiple convention resolutions calling for their union to take action on housing affordability.

"Our union outlined the case for building affordable housing adjacent to major transit hubs as far back as 2014, and we are pleased today to take a step forward to implement our vision to provide a new area office for our members, and affordable housing and childcare for the community," said BCGEU Treasurer and Affordable BC campaign report co-author Paul Finch, who is leading the project. "This project leverages the increase in land value from upzoning to deliver more affordable housing, a policy we hope will be emulated by other municipalities across BC. We believe this model can be replicated by other unions, non-profits and faith groups to provide urgently needed housing starts amidst the current affordability crisis."

Facts about the project:

  • The chosen location near Royal Oak Skytrain aims to align with Burnaby's 2019 Mayor's Task Force on Community Housing recommendations, which explicitly called for density around Skytrain stations/transit and building homes for working families with the maximum number of affordable units possible. The project includes significant 2-3 bedroom units for families. 
  • Affordable rents will be commensurate with working-class wages, with the highest monthly rental cost for affordable units being 80% of CMHC market rates for the local market.

In addition to the rezoning with the City of Burnaby, the union engages advocacy for stronger housing policies through its Affordable BC campaign, and shareholder engagement on the financialization of housing with proposals and commitments from some of Canada's largest chartered banks.

Read the Backgrounder on the project here.

Read the Affordable BC Plan here:



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.




April 25, 2022

BCGEU releases investor brief calling on Loblaw (TSX: L) to take action on su...


Ahead of the Loblaw (TSX: L) annual meeting of shareholders on May 5, 2022, the BCGEU has released an investor brief about its shareholder proposal, raising concerns about forced labour and supply chain controversies at Loblaw. The Proposal asks Loblaw to disclose the results of its supplier audits. In line with its peers

BCGEU encourages investors to vote for this proposal.

Download PDF Investor Brief Loblaw

April 22, 2022

BCGEU librarians ratify collective agreement with Vancouver Island Regional L...

BURNABY, B.C. (COAST SALISH TERRITORIES) – Seven months after starting bargaining and almost seven weeks after starting job action, members of the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) working as librarians for the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) have voted almost 90% in favour of ratifying a new collective agreement.
“This has been a challenging round of bargaining, but these members stuck together and achieved the deal they were looking for from the start,” said BCGEU vice-president, Joanna Lord. “Through their solidarity and thanks to incredible support from library users and the labour movement, BCGEU members working for VIRL demanded better – and they got it.”
On April 11, the bargaining committee reached a tentative agreement with their employer. The tentative agreement was ratified by a strong majority of the bargaining unit on April 19. The VIRL board ratified the agreement the following day. The new four-year agreement is effective from December 31, 2020, to December 31, 2024, and the new terms are retroactive to its start date.
Highlights from the agreement include wage improvements totalling over 12 per cent plus a $500 signing bonus for all active employees. These wage increases are important steps toward closing the wage gap between VIRL librarians and those working for other, comparable regional library systems in our province. BCGEU members working at VIRL also attained improved terms for parental leave, workload, and workplace harassment.
“All workers in B.C. deserve respect in their workplace and a wage that keeps pace with the high cost of living in this province,” said Lord. “That’s what these negotiations were about from day one and that’s what this deal represents for our members."
The collective agreement covers 48 members at 39 VIRL branches.
For more information, including previous media releases, visit
The BCGEU is B.C.'s most dynamic, diverse, and fastest growing union -- representing more than 82,000 members who work in every sector of the economy and live in every community across the province including the 48 librarians who work for the Vancouver Island Regional Library.


April 12, 2022

Vancouver Island library job action paused as BCGEU librarians consider wage ...

BURNABY, B.C. (COAST SALISH TERRITORIES) – Members of the BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) working as librarians for the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) have reached a tentative agreement with their employer and, as a result, are pausing job action.
The offer comes after a month of rotating pickets at various VIRL branches. Following meetings to discuss the terms of the tentative agreement, BCGEU members will conduct a ratification vote in the coming days.
"We're pleased that VIRL's management has chosen to re-engage negotiations, and to have received a fair wage proposal that is worthy of bringing back to the membership," said Laura Kaminker, VIRL librarian and bargaining committee chair. "Until the vote is counted, librarians will be back at work and not on the picket line."
"We're grateful for all the support we've received so far – from our communities, our CUPE colleagues, labour supporters from around the region, and even board members. We're hopeful this offer resolves our issues, and that the final collective agreement leads to a respectful and psychologically, physically safe workplace for these dedicated community-serving librarians."
For more information, including previous media releases and picket updates, visit