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NEWS

November 13, 2020

Letter from the Premier regarding the loss of John Fryer - BCGEU

November 5, 2020

Stephanie Smith
BCGEU President
4911 Canada Way
Burnaby, BC V5G 3W3
Sent via email

Dear Stephanie:

As Premier of the Province of British Columbia, my thoughts are with you and all BCGEU
members as you mourn the loss of John Fryer.

John was a tireless advocate for workers' rights, and he played a crucial role in transitioning the
BCGEU into the union it is today. His career was underpinned by his tenacity, strength of
character, and dedication to improving the lives and working conditions for the union members.

John will be missed by many, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to know him. His
legacy will live on through the countless people he inspired throughout his career and his
important contributions to the labour movement. My sincere condolences to John's family,
friends, and the BCGEU.

Sincerely,

John Horgan
Premier

Download PDF of notice here



UWU/MoveUP

November 08, 2020

BCGEU calls on BC Public Service Agency to protect employees with stronger ma...

BURNABY, Coast Salish Territories – With new cases of COVID-19 increasing across the province and surging in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) has called on the BC Public Service Agency to take immediate action to protect employees in their workplaces.

In a conversation with Don Wright, Head of Public Service Agency (PSA), BCGEU president Stephanie Smith urged the province's largest employer to adopt new workplace safety policies including: making masks mandatory in communal workplace spaces province-wide and supporting remote work for non-essential workers in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions.

"The PSA has an opportunity to set a positive example of COVID safety in the workplace that all employers in the province could follow," said Stephanie Smith, President of the BCGEU. "I'm pleased they are taking a safer approach to remote work but I believe they could and should show stronger leadership by implementing a mandatory mask policy in their workplaces."

In order to ensure that adequate protections are undertaken for members across various industries, BCGEU Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) officers monitor research on workplace transmission of the virus and works with member OHS committees to ensure that current best practices are followed. As the latest provincial briefings indicate that enclosed communal workspaces have been linked to COVID-19 infections in the province, BCGEU OHS officers recommended the policies laid out in the letter to Wright.

"It is now widely recognized that airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can occur under certain conditions," stated a memo included in the letter to Deputy Minister Wright. "In light of these developments, and in keeping with the precautionary principle, the government must immediately review and strengthen measures to minimize exposure to the virus among workers in the BC Public Service."

The BCGEU is one of the largest, most diverse and fastest growing unions in B.C. with more than 80,000 members working in almost every community and economic sector in the province.

For more information, contact BCGEU Communications, [email protected]



UWU/MoveUP

November 08, 2020

Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley office closures - BCGEU

As COVID-19 cases rise in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, our union has been monitoring public health recommendations with regard to workplaces.

In accordance with the latest restrictions enacted for the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions on November 7 (click here to read the latest restrictions), our union has made the decision to close the following physical offices and shift to remote work:

  • The Lower Mainland Area Office (Area 03 - Vancouver)
  • The Fraser Valley Area Office (Area 04 - Fraser Valley)
  • BCGEU Headquarters (Burnaby)

All services performed by these offices will continue – as they have through periods of remote work throughout the last nine months – but the office buildings will no longer be accessible for in-person union services.

Click here for details on how to contact your local BCGEU area office

We took this decision to ensure members have access to core services and supports of their union while also supporting the ability of our staff to practice social distancing. Allowing non-essential staff to work from home and restricting public access to BCGEU buildings we are making sure staff whose work requires them to be in an office to practice social distancing in their workplace.

In addition to the closure of BCGEU offices, our union has also contacted a number of employers urging them to do the same: shifting all non-essential services to remote work and requiring masks in all communal spaces when remote work is not possible.

Have you received your free BCGEU non-medical mask? If not, click here to request one be sent to you.

COVID-19 and your workplace

If you have any concerns about how COVID-19 precautions are being handled at your workplace. Please consider the following to protect the health of yourself, your family, fellow workers and any clients:

  • Review in full your employer’s COVID-19 Safety Plan, especially the section about outbreak management.
  • Ensure your questions and concerns are answered by your employer to your satisfaction.

If not, then:



UWU/MoveUP

November 02, 2020

Remembering John Fryer, “a titan in the labour movement” - BCGEU

BCGEU is saddened to hear of the sudden passing of John Fryer. Fryer served as BCGEU's general secretary from 1969-1983 and president of NUPGE (National Union of Public and General Employees) from 1980-1990.

Those who knew him characterize John Fryer as no-nonsense, gritty, brilliant and a larger than life personality. He will be best remembered for his role in securing collective bargaining rights for provincial government workers in 1972 under the first BC NDP government.

"I never had the chance to work directly with John Fryer, but he was a titan in the labour movement and a key figure in making the BCGEU what it is today-a dynamic, progressive voice for our members and all working people in BC," said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU.

"John's legacy includes engineering the transition of the BC Government Employee's Association to the BCGEU-the official bargaining unit for direct government workers. Our union would literally not be what it is today without him. On behalf of the more than 80,000 members of the BCGEU my deepest condolences go to John's family and all those who knew and loved him."

Fryer was known for implementing some rather unusual strategies. For instance, perhaps his most memorable and amusing tactic is when he hired a Cessna airplane to fly over the B.C. Legislature towing a banner reading "Drop us a line, Mr. Black – BCGEU". This feat – which garnered front page national media coverage -- was to urge the cabinet minister for the public service, Wesley Black, to sit down with BCGEU to discuss bargaining rights.

The late John Shields, BCGEU's second president, said that "John Fryer transformed the B.C. Government Employees' Association from a staff society to the largest labour union in British Columbia… The footprints of John Fryer are the footprints of a pioneer."



UWU/MoveUP

October 26, 2020

The BCGEU stands in solidarity with Alberta workers

October 26, 2020

Via email: [email protected]

Guy Smith, President

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE)

Solidarity Place Edmonton

10451 170 St. NW

Edmonton, AB, T5P 4S7

 

Dear AUPE President Guy Smith,

Re: Solidarity with Alberta workers

 

The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU), with its more than 80,000 members, stand in solidarity with all workers in their fight to protect public healthcare in your province.

The BCGEU calls on the Alberta government to immediately stop their risky plan to cut jobs in the middle of a pandemic and strip workers of their collectively bargained rights.

Premier Jason Kenney’s government once called these workers heroes, but now they are showing that those words were empty rhetoric. We fully support AUPE members taking direct action to bring attention to the Alberta government’s dangerous privatization plan.

The fight to protect public healthcare is not contained to one province or one union. We hope that the entire labour movement, and civil society in Canada, will stand united in support of the brave direct action taken by AUPE workers to protect the services people in Alberta are counting on.

Your neighbours to the west are here to support in any way we can. Should workers in Alberta need anything we can help with, please do not hesitate to call, or get in touch with us at the BCGEU.

The labour movement was founded on the principle of an injury to one being an injury to all, and we are proud to continue this tradition.

Wishing you nothing but success in your fight to safeguard Alberta’s healthcare system for generations to come.

 

In solidarity,

                                                            

Stephanie Smith                                                                                               Paul Finch

President                                                                                                            Treasurer

Kari Michaels                                                                                                    Doug Kinna

Executive Vice President                                                                               Executive Vice President

Joanna Lord                                                                                                      James Coccola

Executive Vice President                                                                               Executive Vice President

 

cc            Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta, via email

               Tyler Shandro, Alberta Minister of Health, via email

 

Download a PDF of the letter here.

 

 

UWU/MoveUP

 

 

October 23, 2020

The BCGEU stands in solidarity with Mi’kmaq fishers- BCGEU

October 23, 2020

Via email: [email protected]

Sipekne'katik First Nation
Chief Michael P. Sack
522 Church Street
Indian Brook 14, NS
B0N 1H0 

Dear Mi'kmaw Nation & Sipekne'katik First Nation,

Re:  Solidarity with Mi'kmaw Nation & Sipekne'katik First Nation

The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) stands in solidarity with Mi'kmaq fishers. We wish to amplify your calls for immediate action by all levels of governments and law enforcement to protect your inherent rights, lives, and the safety of your fishers, including members of the Sipekne'katik First Nation.

BCGEU condemns the violent and racist attacks by non-Indigenous fishers. We condemn the escalating and dangerous crimes perpetrated by non-Indigenous people. And we condemn the RCMP's lack of leadership in addressing these attacks. 

The attacks on your fishers are in direct violation of the Supreme Court of Canada's landmark Marshall ruling that protects your inherent rights to fishing. Your legal and constitutionally protected rights to generate a moderate livelihood must be upheld by all levels of Government, and they must be upheld now.

The BCGEU calls on all relevant levels of government to take action against these acts of racism against the Mi'kmaq and to affirm and respect Mi'kmaq rights immediately. 

Your perseverance and commitment are inspiring to many, and though we are many kilometres away, please know that you have our union's full support.

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith                                                     Paul Finch 
President                                                                Treasurer

 

Download PDF of letter here



UWU/MoveUP

October 21, 2020

New union office will reflect union values - BCGEU

New union office will reflect union values

We have some big news! Our union is building a new Lower Mainland Area Office (LMAO) that will provide BCGEU members and staff with the space and amenities they need, but it will also include much needed affordable housing and childcare spaces as well. We are excited to share this news with members and this bulletin will be the first of many updates as the project moves forward.

Here's what you need to know right now:

  • The land for the project has been acquired under the oversight of a special capital projects committee led by the Treasurer, and with the unanimous support of your elected leaders on the provincial executive. 
     
  • The land purchase was funded by the significant investment returns the BCGEU has earned since we began divesting our defence fund from fossil fuels back in 2014. The financing for the project is from investment returns, and not your dues.
     
  • The site of the new LMAO is in Burnaby-a location chosen because the city's progressive approach to zoning made our goal of providing affordable housing in the new LMAO possible. 
     
  • Every step of this project will be done in a way that is consistent with our values as a union committed to democracy and social justice. Our new LMAO will be a sustainable, accessible and inclusive building that provides the affordable housing and childcare options that working people deserve. 
     
  • The next step is to secure approval from the City of Burnaby for our plans. Our application has been submitted and we will be reaching out to members who live in Burnaby to support our application when it comes to a public hearing. 
     
  • At this point we don't have a date for the start of construction but while we work on those details the buildings that currently stand on the future site of our new LMAO will be part of the City of Burnaby's Mural Program. We will update you on the details of this aspect of the project as we have them.

 
Building for human need, not for profit, is something Canadian and U.S. unions did to support working people back in the 1920s – 1970s. It's a model our union has pursued in our long-standing commitment to build rather than lease the offices used by our members. And we're proud to be reinventing this model using the economic principles of our Affordable BC plan.

Our new building will support BCGEU members and staff for years to come and will truly be an anchor for the progressive community and all working people in Burnaby. We are excited about this project and look forward to sharing more details as we watch our vision come to life.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected].

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President
Paul Finch, BCGEU Treasurer



UWU/MoveUP

October 16, 2020

BCGEU concerned about proposed redesign of the Municipal Pension Plan

You're receiving this as a BCGEU member of the Municipal Pension Plan.

As you may be aware, the Municipal Pension Plan (MPP) has announced potential changes to the plan and is currently seeking stakeholder feedback on a proposed redesign, by October 23. 

Despite being the fourth largest union in the MPP and representing thousands of pension-contributing members, the BCGEU is not one of the "Plan Partner" unions and does not have a seat on the plan's Board of Trustees (who are ultimately responsible for redesign decisions). As a result, we were not formally included in the proposed redesign and did not get to vote directly or independently on it. 
We have been asking the board and partners for years to give the BCGEU representation that is commensurate with the relative size of our membership in the MPP. Nevertheless, our union's pension experts have repeatedly communicated BCGEU members' needs in any future plan redesign.

It is important for you to know that our union supports some aspects of the proposed redesign, in particular the move to what is called the "flat rate of accrual." This is something we've been advocating for members for years, and it means that most new members joining the plan will retire with a superior pension. Our union also supports the notion of a Health Care Trust for retirees.

However, the BCGEU overall opposes the proposal because of three particular concessions that fail BCGEU members:

  • When the Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP) was redesigned, BCGEU members received 12 years of 0.3 per cent accrual below the YMPE (Year Maximum Pensionable Earnings). In comparison, the MPP's proposed redesign offers no retroactive increase. We think it should, and we believe it would offset the loss of the Bridge benefit for members retiring in the next five to 10 years.
     
  • We have been demanding for years that the MPP Board rebalance the contribution rates, and they are proposing to wait until 2022 to do so, instead of implementing these much needed changes for fairness in 2021.
     
  • The Plan Partners agreed to a 0.5 per cent of payroll break in contributions for the employer only. This is unacceptable for us, and it is a concession we refused in the Public Service Pension Plan redesign.
     

As an MPP member, if you are upset with the proposed redesign, or have any questions about how it will impact your pension personally, we encourage you to use this online form by October 23 to communicate your concerns or questions to the MPP partners and Board of Trustees, and to demand a seat on the Board for the BCGEU. The online form takes only a minute to complete, and you'll find more of our research and reasoning on the site.

In solidarity,

Paul Finch, BCGEU Treasurer
Andrea Duncan, Vice President, Component 3 (Community Social Services)
Mahen Ramdharry, Vice President, Component 4 (Health Services)
Cindy Battersby, Vice President, Component 7 (Education, Scientific, Technical & Administrative)
Scott De Long, Vice President, Component 8 (Community Health Services)
Dave MacDonald, Vice President, Component 17 (General Services)



UWU/MoveUP

October 09, 2020

Union elections postponed - BCGEU

We hope you are safe and well as we move into the cooler months.

COVID-19 has brought adjustments to the way our union operates. For instance, provincial health regulations caused us to have to postpone our June 2020 triennial convention until June 2021.

This is to let you know we're also postponing our steward elections until 2021. Local elections are postponed until early 2022. 

In the meantime, elections will still be held to fill vacancies. The postponements for the general elections are happening because they're required to occur after the convention, as per our constitution.

We hold local elections every three years. Every position on the executive is open to nominations. Positions include chair, 1st vice-chair, 2nd vice-chair, 3rd vice-chair, treasurer, secretary, members at large, and young worker representative.

We encourage members to become active in their BCGEU locals, and by doing so, play a greater role in our union's governance.

We'll have more information about the 2021 steward and local elections, and the triennial convention, in the weeks to come. 

 

 



UWU/MoveUP