NEWS

May 07, 2018

BCGEU observes North American Occupational Safety and Health Week - BCGEU

The BC Government and Service Employees' Union joins occupational health and safety advocates and governments across the continent in observing North American Occupational Safety and Health Week (NAOSH), which is observed from May 6-12 and will be commemorated in events across North America.

NAOSH Week was first launched in 1997, after the government of Canada, United States and Mexico signed an agreement to officially recognize and promote the event. The agreement was taken to the NAFTA negotiation table in 1996, when NAOSH was officially established.

The goal of Safety and Health Week is to focus the attention of employers, employees, partners and the public on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home and in the community.

Throughout its history, the BCGEU has worked hard to protect its members from injury, illness and death on the job. Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is an important issue for the union.

The cornerstone of good health and safety practice in British Columbia is the joint Occupational Health and Safety committee, which have been established in workplaces across the province. BCGEU OHS representatives help prevent injuries and illness and save lives.

Join us in recognizing the important work of occupational health and safety in our workplaces. Click here to find an event to commemorate North American Occupational Safety and Health Week in your community: http://www.naosh.ca/english/events.html



UWU/MoveUP

April 30, 2018

Provincial Magazine – Spring 2018 - BCGEU

The digital version of the Spring 2018 issue of The Provincial is available to download online. In this issue:

  • BC Budget 2018
  • BC Cannabis retail program
  • Public Service Pension Plan changes
  • Community Social Services bargaining
  • Affordable BC campaign
  • Organizing news
  • Events and more…

Download the Spring 2018 issue (PDF)



UWU/MoveUP

April 26, 2018

New conservation officers provide greater protection for B.C. environment - B...

The swearing in of new conservation officers on the steps of the B.C. legislature demonstrates a commitment by the B.C. government to increase protection for our natural environment, the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) said today.

"The B.C. government's commitment to hire new conservation officers is good news that will ensure higher levels of compliance and enforcement with a positive impact on our environment and the economy," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Our environment and natural resource sector continues to need significant new investment to reverse the decades-long erosion of services."

The 20 new conservation officers will begin training at the Western Conservation Law Enforcement Academy in May 2018 and upon graduation will be deployed around the province. 

The new recruits will fill new and vacant positions and areas where retirements are expected. The hiring will bring the total number of employees with conservation officer designation to 160 province-wide.



Click to see more swearing-in photos on the BCGEU Flikr site

UWU/MoveUP

April 25, 2018

Message from BCGEU vice president of administrative services component Maria ...

The best laid plans … often go awry.
 
We administrative professionals are great organizers and planners, aren't we? That's why, as your vice president for administrative services at the BCGEU, Administrative Services Day is never far from my mind. This is the day we recognize the valuable and vital service we in the BCGEU's Administrative Services Component provide to British Columbians and their communities, which this year is on April 25th. 
 
I always look forward to visiting worksites to thank you for your hard work and dedication. Here's where my plans for 2018 have gone awry. I won't be able to call on worksites this Administrative Services Day, but, there's a very good reason for my absence.
 
As you may have heard, the B.C. Government has called us back to the bargaining table one year before our existing contract expires at the end of March 2019. This early start will give us sufficient time to address the long-standing issues we've been raising with government in the four years since we negotiated our last contract. Our hope is to improve services through the bargaining process.
 
I'll be on the bargaining committee, sitting at the negotiating table, putting forward your issues and proposed improvements to the collective agreement. I'm looking forward to it.
 
So, while you won't be seeing me, other members of your Component and union executive will be by to meet many of you in your places of work, and we hope that you take the time to celebrate with us.
 
Best wishes for Administrative Services week. Workplaces couldn't function without you and the recognition is well earned!


In solidarity,

Maria Middlemiss

Click here to view message from the BCGEU.



UWU/MoveUP

April 24, 2018

BCGEU’s telephone town hall on Public Service Pension Plan changes - BCGEU

On Tuesday, April 10th we hosted a telephone town hall from the Victoria Area Office to talk with members about the changes to the Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP) that were implemented April 1, 2018. We were joined in the VAO by representatives from the BC Pension Corporation and the Pension Secretariat. This bulletin summarizes some of the key points that came up during the town hall and provides resources for members to continue educating themselves and each other as we move forward under the new plan design.

We want to thank every one of the more than 3,000 members who participated in the town hall. We know that not everyone who had a question or a comment about the changes was able to participate and even those who did dial in may not have had a chance to speak with us directly but we appreciate that you all took time out of your busy lives to get informed.

These plan changes will directly impact every member of the BCGEU in the PSPP and we know that the vast majority of them will be better off under the new plan. In fact:

  • The average member's pension will be 37% higher under the new plan than it would have been under the old plan.
  • 95% of members retiring in next 5 years will get a higher pension under the new plan than they would have under the old plan.
  • 99% of members retiring in next 2 years will get a higher pension under the new plan than they would have under the old plan.

But we also know change can be stressful and changes that impact family finances and retirement plans are particularly stressful. Our goal in hosting the town hall was to help ease that stress by making sure members have access to accurate information about the changes and reliable advice moving forward.

Whether you were on the call or not, we hope you'll find this bulletin informative and we encourage you to take advantage of the resources available to help you understand how the pension changes will impact you and your family. We would also ask that you help us by sharing this bulletin with colleagues in your workplace and with friends who are members of the BCGEU. The more people have access to the facts, the better.

RESOURCES

- If you didn't have a chance to participate in the town hall, you can listen to an audio archive of the entire event here:

- If you have specific questions about how the changes will impact your individual pension plan, please contact the BC Pension Corporation.

- For other pension related questions, you can contact the BCGEU at pensions@bcgeu.ca

- There is a pension plan Illustrator tool on the PSPP website that can estimate your pension under the new rules. As of May 1, 2018 there will be a pension calculator tool available. For more information, visit: https://pspp.pensionsbc.ca/

To view the Pensions Corp presentation that explains this change, please click here.

 

TIMELINE OF PLAN CHANGES

    • 2009: The BCGEU and the provincial government agree to discuss potential changes to the plan with the understanding that once a tentative agreement is reached the BCGEU would have 18 months to communicate changes to members.

    • 2017 (late December): The Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP) Board notifies plan partners—the BCGEU and the provincial government—of their intention to change the plan and gives plan partners 30 days to provide input. In spite of the tight timeline the BCGEU decides to support the interests of members by providing input rather than letting the Board make changes in isolation.

    • 2018:
      • The BCGEU meets the Board’s 30-day deadline and proposes changes that would improve the pensions of the vast majority of BCGEU members by removing unfair subsidies that benefitted the highest income earners in the plan at the expense of lower wage earners, including BCGEU members.
      • The Board accepts the BCGEU’s changes but announces that the 18 month window for communicating with members is no longer an option and that changes must be implemented by fiscal year end, March 31, 2018.

 

FACTS ABOUT PUBLIC SECTOR PENSIONS

  • The Public Sector Labour Relations Act (PSLRA) explicitly bars collective bargaining of pensions.

  • The Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP) Board has responsibility for designing and implementing plan changes. The PSPP board has the option of requesting input from plan partners on design changes. However, input from plan partners is not binding on the Board.

  • Between the start of the BCGEU timeline in 2009 and the implementation of the changes on March 31, 2018, two other large public sector pension plans—the college plan and the teachers’ plan—implemented changes similar to those proposed by the BCGEU.

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF PLAN CHANGES

    • Accrual rates
        • The old plan design included two accrual rates –1.35% on earnings below the Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE) of $55,900, and 2% on earnings over the YMPE. This meant that under the old plan lower wage earners-such as BCGEU members-received a lower percentage of income as pension relative to higher wage earners-such as excluded managers who were also part of the plan.
    • The new plan design levels the playing field by applying a single, higher accrual rate for all pensionable income.

    • The impact will be that all BCGEU members will see an increase in their accrual rate and thanks to that increase members working at or below the YMPE will see a 37% increase in their lifetime pension on service after April 1, 2018.

 

    • Retroactivity
      • The accrual rate for service from April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2018 for all earnings below YMPE will be retroactively increased from 1.35% to 1.65%. The impact will be a 22.2% increase in lifetime pensions on a go-forward basis, from October 1, 2019.

 

  • Early retirement, the Rule of 85, and the bridging benefit
    • All service up to March 31, 2018 is governed by the old plan rules, including the bridging benefit and the Rule of 85.

    • Under the new plan, the Rule of 85 and the bridging benefit will not apply to service accrued after March 31, 2018. However, members still have the right to retire with an unreduced pension as early as 55 years of age with 35 years of service.
      • The long-term impact of the loss of Rule of 85 and the bridging benefit is offset by a higher total pension value for BCGEU members.
      • Members who need the higher pre-65 pension value that was provided by the bridging benefit under the old plan can use a temporary annuity to access some of the higher post-65 total pension value of the new plan before they turn 65. We have asked the Pension Plan to make this process easier for members to understand.

    • Under the new plan design the 6.2% "early retirement reduction factor" applies to service after March 31, 2018 and is "benefit neutral". That means members who can afford to retire early will pay a fair cost to do so and will no longer be subsidized by those who must continue working.

 

Stephanie Smith
BCGEU President

 

Paul Finch
BCGEU Treasurer



UWU/MoveUP

April 23, 2018

Celebrating Medical Laboratory Professionals Week: April 22-28 - BCGEU

Please join us this week in celebrating medical laboratory professionals! 

Medical laboratory professionals are highly trained health care professionals who provide laboratory test results required for the prevention, detection and treatment of illness and disease. When physicians and other health care providers are looking for answers, they depend on laboratory test results to accurately diagnose and treat illness and monitor patient health.

According to the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science, the medical laboratory profession, as a group, is the fourth largest health care profession in Canada, and medical laboratory professionals generate over 440 million test results each year.

"The BCGEU is proud to represent hundreds of lab workers across the province," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. "These dedicated, highly-trained professionals play a critical role in our health care system and this week is a perfect opportunity to say thank you to all of them for delivering vital services that British Columbians rely on."



UWU/MoveUP

April 23, 2018

Family Event – Miner's Memorial in Cumberland - BCGEU

This year Miners Memorial at Cumberland is going to be a huge event for union members. It is unfortunate that we were unable to secure Miracle Beach for the annual family picnic and so in lieu of that, we are encouraging members and their families to attend the BBQ dinner and other festivities on Saturday June 23rd.

Go to https://minersmemorial.ca/ to get a rundown of events. The best part is from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. we will walk with the BCGEU RV in a procession that signifies the funeral procession of Ginger Goodwin, an activist who died for the union cause. Afterwards there is a BBQ with lots of sing-alongs! The Union is covering your donation to the BBQ which will be held at the Cumberland Village Park. Walk in the procession or watch, but all are welcome.

 

In solidarity

 

Area 02 Cross Component Committee


Download FYI Miners Memorial.pdf

UWU/MoveUP

April 20, 2018

MSDPR’s Acceptance of Ombudsperson’s Holding Pattern Report Is a Major Victor...

The BCGEU applauds the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction's (MSDPR) willingness to accept most of the recommendations of B.C.'s Ombudsperson Jay Chalke's special report Holding Pattern: Call Wait Times for Income and Disability Assistance.

"We're pleased that the new government has acknowledged the long-standing problems surrounding the MSDPR centralized phone line and is committed to addressing some of the underlying issues," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "However, we believe that all of the Ombudsperson's recommendations should be implemented and we're hoping to meet with Minister Shane Simpson in the near future to discuss how we can work together to continue improving services for British Columbians and working conditions for our members."

This report, which investigates the long wait-times and restricted service of the ministry's centralized phone system, is the result of repeated complaints submitted by the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre on behalf of nine social service agencies across the province. 

The complaint draws, in part, on the findings of the BCGEU's Choose Children report which outlines the concerns and experiences of frontline workers in the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (MSDSI, as it used to be called under the BC Liberal government) as well as community based social services agencies. It says that child, youth and family workers face massive caseloads, severe staffing shortages, poorly designed service delivery and a lack of resources. 

Workers at MSDPR have also voiced concerns to the BCGEU about the worsening of working conditions as a result of budget cuts, office closures and the centralized phone system. Workers are subjected to increased levels of stress and exposed to abuse by vulnerable clients who are no longer receiving adequate services. 

This, combined with pay that is lower than the equivalent in other provinces, has also led to a low retention rate for Employment and Assistance Workers (EAW), which has made it difficult for the ministry to maintain appropriate staffing levels. 

The Ombudsperson's report confirms problems the BCGEU has pointed out for years regarding the long wait times and inadequate service levels experienced by the province's most vulnerable people when calling into the ministry's centralized phone system. 

In this report, the Ombudsperson made 9 recommendations for MSDPR to improve services. These recommendations include:

• Reporting wait time statistics to increase transparency on the ministry's progress in addressing this problem
• Hiring more EAWs to reduce wait times and provide adequate levels of service
• Phasing out the use of limited service techniques used to reduce the amount of time EAWs spend on each call, which resulted in reduced service levels for people seeking assistance

Related Resources:

Choose Children: A case for reinvesting in child, youth and family services in British Columbia
Wait times for welfare phone line soar
Service reductions at Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation prompt complaint to Ombudsperson

 



UWU/MoveUP

April 20, 2018

BCGEU partners with SumOfUs on improving corporate responsibility through inv...

The BCGEU is leading the way in the labour movement when it comes to responsible investing. Ahead of the 2015 global oil price crash, the union divested its strike fund and general reserves from fossil fuel equities and not only preserved, but increased the value of its holdings. Now, the BCGEU has partnered with non-profit organization SumOfUs to advocate for greater corporate responsibility among companies in its portfolio to further improve the value and sustainability of those investments. 

"As a union we need to make sure that funds our members count on, such as the strike fund, are financially healthy and this requires careful and responsible investment decisions," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Calling for greater corporate responsibility as a shareholder is not only financially prudent, but it allows us to pursue our values as a labour union as well." 

On behalf of the BCGEU, SumOfUs will file several proposals over the summer for a vote by shareholders at Annual General Meetings of Canadian companies. These proposals will call for greater fairness in corporate governance and increased scrutiny around human rights and labour practices as well as the impacts of deforestation. 

SumOfUs is a global non-profit organization that engages an online community of 14 million people to hold big corporations accountable on issues such as climate change, workers' rights, discrimination, human rights, animal rights and corruption.



UWU/MoveUP