December 20, 2018

BCGEU disappointed by defeat of electoral reform referendum - BCGEU

The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is disappointed by Election BC's announcement today that the 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform was defeated. Despite this result, over half a million British Columbians voted for change due to a deep dissatisfaction with First Past the Post (FPTP), and the conversation about a more representative voting system must continue.

Under FPTP more and more people have been tuning out of our electoral system and since 1983, voter turnout has fallen nearly 20 per cent. Less than 50 per cent of millennials currently vote and as this group starts to make up more of the electorate, we could see FPTP elections drawing less than 50 per cent participation. This is not only bad for our democracy, it stifles new ideas and innovation and puts British Columbia's future prosperity at risk.

In 2017 the BCGEU asked its members for their input about changes to the voting system and the upcoming referendum on electoral reform. 90 per cent indicated they were in favour of modernizing our electoral system and switching to proportional representation. Many BCGEU members took part in a year-long campaign for electoral reform in their communities and workplaces, engaging with their family, friends, and coworkers.

In total, 533,518 British Columbians or 39% voted in favour of changing the system to proportional representation following the largest public consultation in B.C. history. Unfortunately, the government-funded proponent campaign failed to reach a broad public audience that may have been receptive to supporting electoral reform, contributing to the defeat today.

Representing over 77,000 B.C. workers, the BCGEU is one of the largest member-run democratic organizations in the province with a wealth of experience in making sure that all voices are heard in decision-making. As such, the union will continue to advocate for fair elections and more direct participation in our democracy on behalf of our members, and all working people.


December 20, 2018

BCGEU HQ closed – Dec 21st - BCGEU

Due to a power failure, the BCGEU Headquarters in Burnaby will continue to be closed for the remainder of the day on December 21, 2018.


We expect that the office will re-open on Monday, December 24. If power has not been restored by then, a subsequent notice will be posted here.



December 19, 2018

The Provincial magazine - Winter 2018 - BCGEU

The winter issue of The Provincial magazine is now available to download. Featured in this issue:

· Local government elections

· Wildfire health risks

· C-6 workers meet minister

· $10-a-day childcare

· Casino bargaining

· Willow Manor worksite profile

· Housing and young workers

· And more…

Download the Winter 2018 issue here


December 12, 2018

BCGEU welcomes the provincial government's Rental Housing Task Force report a...

In July 2018 the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) made a submission to the provincial government's Rental Housing Task Force recommending measures to expand and better protect the supply of rental housing in the province. Today, the Task Force released its report and 23 policy recommendations that will help to improve life for tenants in B.C.

The BCGEU's submission focused on three main areas: resourcing and reforming the Residential Tenancy Branch; reforming residential tenancy law and regulations; and increasing the supply of affordable rental housing.

In today's report, the union is pleased to see a recommendation to empower the Residential Tenancy Branch to be more responsive, accessible and proactive in meeting the needs of renters as well as recommendations to stop renovictions and speed up the return of damage deposits. However, the BCGEU is disappointed the report does not move forward on important issues like vacancy control which applies existing rent control policies to new tenants as well as existing ones, adequately addressing rental supply, and implementing a land value capture tax across the province.

In the coming days, the BCGEU will conduct an in-depth analysis of the report, particularly to examine recommendations relative to the union's report Building an Affordable B.C., co-authored by CUPE 1767 President Jared Melvin and Vice President Harpinder Sandhu.

View the BCGEU's submission to the Rental Housing Task Force here: https://www.affordablebc.ca/rental_housing_task_force_submission
View the report Building an Affordable B.C. here: https://www.affordablebc.ca/our-plan
The BCGEU is one of the largest and most diverse unions in British Columbia, representing over 77,000 members across the province.


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.