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NEWS

August 23, 2021

BCGEU calls for delay of telework requirement, reinstatement of masks in publ...

In today's COVID update, the B.C. government announced that the province would not be moving to Step 4 of the provincial restart plan as anticipated on September 7, 2021.
 
September 7 had been set as the date that members continuing to work from home would be required to have an "approved telework agreement", as per a July 20 communication from the BC Public Service:

"those who wish to continue working from home will need to have an approved telework agreement in place by September 7, 2021 using the corporate template provided by the BC Public Service Agency. This aligns with the anticipated date for the transition to Step 4 of the provincial Restart Plan, and it provides ample time for you to work through establishing or updating telework agreements with your supervisor…"

It is our union's opinion that a telework agreement should not be required unless the province has moved to Step 4 – which includes "workplaces fully reopened".
 
Accordingly, the BCGEU has written to the Head of the BC Public Service calling to delay that requirement and calling for a reinstatement for a mask mandate in all public areas of public service worksites (including the BC Liquor Distribution Branch) – as BCGEU members are required to provide essential services to all people regardless of their vaccination status.
 
Click here to read a copy of our letter.
 
We will continue to keep BCGEU members updated on the status of our request. If you have any questions, please contact your union shop steward.
 
In solidarity,
 
Your BCGEU Public Service Bargaining Committee
Stephanie Smith, President
Paul Finch, Treasurer
Kari Michaels, Executive Vice President
Dean Purdy, Vice President - Component 1
Kusam Doal, Vice President - Component 5
Judy Fox-McGuire, Vice President - Component 6
Cynthia Mepham-Egli, Component 6 Second Vice-Chairperson
Maria Middlemiss, Vice President - Component 12
Matt Damario, Component 12 First Vice-Chairperson
Robert Davis, Vice President - Component 20
Doug Dykens, Director - Field Services & Negotiations
Mike Eso, Secretary
Lisa Lane, Support Staff

UWU/MoveUP

August 12, 2021

Workplaces re-opening – get vaccinated - BCGEU

Step 4 of B.C.'s Restart plan could start as early as September 7 – though this date could vary by region. Step 4 includes a return to fully re-opened offices and workplaces. Whether your worksite is returning to full capacity or you're returning to in-person work after working from home, our union can help address any health and safety concerns that may arise. 
And remember: the best way to ensure your safety on the job is to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

    Get vaccinated: B.C.'s most recent COVID-19 surge has been fueled by those who are
    unvaccinated or have only had one dose. This reminds us that getting
    vaccinated is the most important tool we have in stopping transmission and
    bringing the pandemic to an end. 

    The BCGEU encourages all members who have not yet been vaccinated to do so
    according to the guidance of their doctor. Every vaccine administered in Canada
    is safe and effective, as evaluated by Health Canada, and with shorter line-ups
    it's even easier to get vaccinated. Go here to register, book an appointment and
    get your vaccine:
    https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/register

    You can also find vaccine drop-in locations and hours in your community here:
    http://gov.bc.ca/VaxForBC

    Safe workplaces:
    Employers have the responsibility to maintain a safe workplace and to ensure
    workers' privacy rights are respected. This includes having a communicable
    disease plan in place that enforces appropriate handwashing and personal
    hygiene practices, appropriate ventilation, and allowing staff to stay home when
    sick.

    Also remember that your right to refuse unsafe work is a legislative right and
    responsibility of all workers in B.C. and that is no different during the COVID-19
    pandemic. Read more about your right here.

    Our union has consistently advocated for the appropriate usage of masks and
    we urge you to continue wearing a mask indoors as an added layer of protection
    for everyone.

    If you have an urgent issue related to COVID-19 or a workplace health and
    safety issue, please inform your supervisor first. If necessary, contact your
    Occupational Health and Safety Committee representative, steward or local
    chairperson.

Step 4 of the Restart plan must be done in a way that prioritizes the safety of B.C.'s workers. And by working together to keep each other safe – by getting vaccinated and following appropriate safety protocols – we can all play an important role in ensuring its success.

In solidarity, 
Paul Finch, BCGEU Treasurer

Read more about the re-start plan here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/info/restart 

 



UWU/MoveUP

August 12, 2021

MEDIA RELEASE: BCGEU encourages vaccination, re-issuing of single-site and ma...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2021

BCGEU encourages vaccination, re-issuing of single-site and mask orders

BURNABY, B.C. (Coast Salish Territories) - Following today's provincial government announcement regarding vaccines for health care workers, the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) encourages all British Columbians to get vaccinated.

"Vaccinations are an essential tool in combatting the spread of COVID-19 and ending the pandemic in British Columbia," said Paul Finch, BCGEU Treasurer. "Since the beginning of the vaccine roll-out, our union has robustly encouraged members and the general public to get vaccinated against COVID-19. We also know we cannot effectively combat COVID-19 with vaccines alone, which is why we are calling on the government to re-institute single site restrictions for health care workers, and to re-introduce the mask mandate."

While British Columbians continue to get vaccinated at high rates, many in our communities – children, immunocompromised individuals, and some of our elderly neighbours – are unable to directly benefit from vaccination. Additionally, vaccinated individuals are still able to shed the virus. Because of these factors, the importance of other prevention measures cannot be understated. These include the continuation of the single-site order for long-term care facilities and a strong indoor mask mandate.

Throughout the pandemic, the BCGEU has been a leading voice in support of vaccination and mask mandates to protect front-line workers and the general public. The union campaigned to implement the indoor mask mandate in fall of 2020, and advocated for fast and equitable distribution of vaccines to protect front-line workers earlier this year.

With the rapid spread of the delta variant in B.C. and elsewhere, it's critical that our province takes the steps necessary to prevent the spread of the virus and protect our vulnerable neighbours and front-line workers.

The BCGEU represents more than 23,000 members in the health care sector, including 5,500 in long-term care and assisted living. The union is working to engage with members regarding vaccines in the workplace and will continue to support all those affected to navigate this change.

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.

Contact:

Bronwen Barnett, Communications Officer
[email protected] - 604-719-4713



UWU/MoveUP

July 30, 2021

Your input is needed: Working with COVID - BCGEU

Our union, in partnership with a research team from University College Dublin, wants to know more about the safety measures used in your workplace to protect against COVID-19 and future infectious diseases. 


Research shows that some workplaces are common settings for infectious disease outbreaks due to transmission between employees, their households, and communities. Because employees have a legal right to a safe workplace, employers must do their best to create safe work conditions.

To help us understand what can be improved, please complete this five-minute survey:Working with COVID survey

Participation in this survey is anonymous and input will help identify how to keep the global workforce safe and healthy both now (as restrictions loosen) and in the future. We encourage you to forward this multilingual survey to friends and colleagues.

Thank you for your hard work and resilience throughout this pandemic. 

UWU/MoveUP

July 20, 2021

Tips to avoid email fraud - BCGEU

In the past couple of years, the BCGEU has seen an increase in the number of fraudulent, or phishing, emails being sent to BCGEU members.

Often, these emails look like they come from someone at the BCGEU. In other circumstances, the scammers have taken information off the BCGEU website and have attempted to impersonate component or local executive members.

In many of these cases, the scammers are asking other BCGEU members to send them money, either by an e-transfer or other means (such as a request to purchase gift cards), on their behalf.

To be clear: The BCGEU will never email you to ask for an e-transfer or for any form of money.

Unfortunately, we have had a member recently fall victim to one of these scams. As a result, we want to advise you of best practices to stay safe online.

1. Check for an @bcgeu.ca email address in the "From:" line of the email

Any email you receive from the BCGEU will have an @bcgeu.ca email address in the "From:" line. Here is an example of a fraudulent email:



Here is another example, this time asking to install software.



While this email looks legitimate, it is not. You can see from the "From:" email that this does not come from Microsoft. In addition, software companies will never email asking you to upgrade your software. Anytime an email asks you to install something, you should assume that it is fraud.

2. Confirm request using existing contact information

If anyone emails you asking for money, make sure you call or text that person to confirm the request is real. Do not assume any email asking for money is real until you have confirmed with the person by using contact information that you already have. Do not trust a phone number listed within the email and do not reply to the email you received. If you don't have the person's phone number, then you don't know them well enough to send them money.

3. Assume any email requesting personal information is fraudulent

In general, it is best to assume that any email that asks you for personal information is fraudulent. For instance, the BCGEU will not email you to ask for any personal information – instead we would ask you to login into the Member Portal (my.bcgeu.ca) to update any information. If you receive an email from the BCGEU asking for you to update information through a website, make sure that it links you to a website that ends in .bcgeu.ca, like my.bcgeu.ca.

4. Update passwords directly, not via links

Finally, a common fraudulent email we have seen is one asking you to update your password. This type of email is a bit more difficult to be sure about, because this is something many online services will commonly ask you to do. The best way to be sure that you do not inadvertently provide your password to a scammer is to simply go to the online service in your web browser and login. Do not click the link in the email you received. If the service wants you to change your password, you will be prompted to do so upon logging in.

For more information about staying safe online, please consult the Government of Canada's websites:
- https://cyber.gc.ca/en/guidance/spotting-malicious-email-messages-itsap00100
- https://cyber.gc.ca/en/guidance/dont-take-bait-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-attacks 



UWU/MoveUP

July 02, 2021

BC Restart Phase 3 – union offices opening and changes at work - BCGEU

BCGEU offices re-opening on July 12

With the shift to Phase 3 of the BC Restart Plan, BCGEU offices will re-open, by appointment only, on July 12.

Members can visit offices for meetings and to drop off or pick up materials.

For the safety of BCGEU members and staff, masks are required in common spaces and visitors must register upon arrival. Additional occupational health and safety protocols will also apply, including limits on meeting size and the number of people allowed in an office at one time, though these vary between offices.

If you wish to visit your local BCGEU office, please contact your area office to make an appointment – click here for a list of BCGEU offices. 

 




What Phase 3 means at work


Yesterday B.C. moved to stage three of our restart plan. Click here to read details of the plan. 

Key changes affecting workplaces in this stage include:

  • the end of the provincial indoor mask mandate, and
  • the end of workplaces requiring a COVID safety plan.

However, there is still a mask recommendation for certain individuals and workplaces will now be required to have a Communicable Disease Plan, which could include mask wearing.
 
For many BCGEU members, work will begin to look more like it did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and our union will be working with employers to ensure that occupational health and safety is the highest priority in every workplace.
 
If you are concerned about how your workplace is adapting to the new regulations, please contact your union steward or occupational health and safety representative. Click here for information about occupational health and safety in your worksite.
 



UWU/MoveUP

June 30, 2021

Canada Day: Reflect, listen, learn, commit to action - BCGEU

How can we make Canada Day meaningful? By taking time on July 1 to reflect and collectively mourn about recent events as we learn more about the horrors and abuse that took place in residential schools.
 
We grieve alongside Indigenous Peoples and communities as we validate tragic events in our history. Of course, the most recent ones being the deeply disturbing news of 751 unmarked graves being accounted for at the former Marieval Indian Residential School in the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan and another 182 human remains located in unmarked graves at the former St. Eugene's Mission Residential School in the Ktunaxa Nation in Cranbrook.
 
Canada Day needs to be about respectful reflection — to listen and to learn about the history of Canada and understand all the ways Indigenous people have suffered and are suffering today. Again, we’re calling for decolonization, and real action toward reconciliation.
 
The BCGEU stands with Indigenous Peoples from coast to coast to coast.  We strongly support the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s 94 Calls to Action which cover a variety of aspects of life in Canada that include business, education, health, youth, women, justice and more. We implore all non-Indigenous people to read each of the 94 calls to action, to cultivate a deeper understanding of the impact of intergenerational trauma and systemic racism and work together to dismantle colonialism.
 
What can you do?
Your union has gathered a variety of resources including suggestions of some Indigenous businesses to support, Indigenous social media thought leaders to follow, and links for non-Indigenous people to better understand Canada’s painful colonial legacy and its impact on Indigenous peoples.
 
Please take the time and learn.
 
Actions matter: Your union remains more committed than ever to strengthening relationships with Indigenous members and all Indigenous peoples.
 
Resources:
 
Donate: Indian Residential School Survivors Society
 
IndigiNews: Help decolonize the media by becoming an IndigiNews supporter.
 
Land Acknowledgements
Acknowledging territory shows recognition of and respect for Aboriginal Peoples. Find out more about local Indigenous territories and languages 
 
Guide to Indigenous organizations and services
A listing of Indigenous community-based services and organizations in B.C.: 
 
A-Z listing of First Nations in B.C.
An alphabetical listing of First Nations in B.C., and links to further information 
 
A Manual for Decolonization Whose Land Is It Anyway?
A Manual for Decolonization was inspired by a 2016 speaking tour by Arthur Manuel, less than a year before his untimely passing in January 2017.
 
First Nations historical dates in Canada
Historical timeline in B.C.: a timeline and history of Aboriginal Peoples in British Columbia (link to:
 
B.C. First Nations history
First Nations of North America have always been self-sustaining societies with complex social, economic and political structures. Read this brief historical overview of First Nations in B.C., starting with the signing of a Royal Proclamation in October 1763.
 
A child-friendly version of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
It’s never too early to start teaching our children.

Indigenous Women and the Story of Canada | Sarah Robinson | The Walrus Talks

BCGEU Equity and Human Rights Facebook Group
 
BCFED Indigenous Workers Group 
 
BCGEU guide to First Nations acknowledgement, protocol & terminology

Indigenous thought leaders to follow on social media:
 
Cindy Blackstock: a Canadian-born Gitxsan activist for child welfare and executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada
Jody Wilson-Raybould: Independent MP—Vancouver Granville, former Minister of VAC, Justice and Attorney General of Canada, BC Regional Chief
Khelsilem: Indigenous leader and spokesperson with Squamish Nation
Angela Sterritt: Academy (CSA) award winning journalist — best local reporter in Canada, 2021. Gitxsan/Amsiwa
Ryan McMahon: Anishinaabe comedian, podcaster and writer from the Couchiching First Nation 
Brandi Morin: Cree/Iroquois/French, Awarded Journalist 
Pam Palmater: Lawyer, Mi’kmaw citizen and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick
Tanya Talaga: Storyteller, writer, filmmaker
Bob Chamberlin: Indigenous leader 
Wawmeesh Hamilton: CBC Radio syndicated columnist
Candis Callison: Author, Reckoning: Journalism’s Limits and Possibilities (2020) 
Anna Mary Mckenzie: IndigiNews reporter 
Odette Auger: Indigenous Journalist 
Gordon Loverin: A certified director, an accomplished screenwriter and an experienced journalist 
Steph Eva Wood: Reporter for The Narwhal
Bob Joseph: Author of national bestseller 21 Things You May Not Know About The Indian Act. 
 
Podcasts:
Indigenous podcasts to follow 
 
Books:
48 books by Indigenous writers to read to understand residential schools 
 
Films:
Films by Indigenous filmmakers 
REEL Canada: Indigenous made film catalogue 
 
Indigenous-owned businesses to check out and support

 

 

 

The BCGEU is located on the Unceded Territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skxwú7mesh (Squamish) & Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. Learn more about local Indigenous territories and languages: https://native-land.ca/



UWU/MoveUP

June 29, 2021

Staying Safe While Working in the Heat - BCGEU

In the past weekend, BC has set a new record temperature high not seen in Canada since 1937. Since we are not acclimatized to this high heat, these increased temperatures present a physical risk factor that may not be taken into account in your day-to-day work. WorksafeBC has put out a comprehensive heat safe document here. This bulletin will take you through any additional factors that need to be considered while working in the heat, tips for staying cool and how to identify signs of heat related illness.

Working in the heat:

With increased temperatures, our bodies are losing moisture at a rate faster than we are used to restoring it. In order to prevent heat related illnesses and conditions, the following can go a long way to reducing your risk:

  • Drink plenty of water (one glass every 20 minutes). Note: Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages as they will draw moisture from the body;
  • Wear clean, light coloured, loose-fitting clothing;
  • Take breaks in a cool and/or well-ventilated area and, where possible, time breaks during the hottest part of the day;
  • Aim to do physical work during the coolest part of the day.

Certain risk factors may increase your vulnerability to heat related illness: increased age, pre-existing medical conditions or treatments, short-term illnesses that cause loss of fluids, chronic skin disorders and certain medications can all influence how the heat affects us.
If the heat is impacting your ability to work safely, you have the right to refuse unsafe work. For the steps to refuse unsafe work, please go here.

Heat Related Illness:

Most heat related Illnesses result from excessive sweating without replacing the fluids and salts that are lost through that process.

Illness/Condition Causes Symptoms Treatmeant
Heat Cramps Excessive sweating without replacing salts Painful cramps due to excessive sweating and salt depletion Move to a cooler environment; loosen any tight-fitting clothes; cool slowly with a cold sponge or fan. If alert and not nauseated, give rehydrating liquids

Heat Exhaustion*

 

 

*Transport to further medical attention as soon as safe

Depletion of fluids and salts over longer periods of exertion Shallow/increased breathing; weak rapid pulse; pale, cool and clammy skin; sweating; weakness, fatigue, dizziness; headaches and nausea; fainting; muscle cramps Move to a cooler environment; loosen any tight-fitting clothes; cool slowly with a cold sponge or fan. If alert and not nauseated, give rehydrating liquids.

Heat Stroke*

 

 

 

*Transport to further medical attention as soon as safe

Core body temperature rises over 41° Hot, dry, flushed skin; absence of sweating; confusion; agitation; decreased level of consciousness; headache; nausea and vomiting; seizures; increased breathing rate; irregular pulse; shock; cardiac arrest Maintain airway, breathing and circulation; move person to coolest place possible; lay person on their back (if risk of vomiting, lay on side); sponge and fan skin to cool down or wet sheets to apply to body. If alert and not nauseated; give rehydrating liquids


For any questions on heat safety in your workplace, please contact your OHS committee, OHS rep or local steward. If you have OHS concerns or would like to become an OHS rep, please contact us at [email protected]. You can find us online at http://ohs.bcgeu.ca
 
Download PDF of notice here.



UWU/MoveUP

June 21, 2021

BCGEU statement on National Indigenous Peoples Day - BCGEU

Today, on National Indigenous Peoples Day, the BCGEU encourages members to reflect on and celebrate the heritage and contributions of Indigenous Canadians. Thank you to all Indigenous members for your work over the years to build our union and serve your communities.

In addition to celebrations, it is also a time to commit to action in decolonization.

The Tk'emlúps First Nation's discovery of 215 bodies at the Kamloops Indian Residential School has once again brought attention to the devastating impacts that Canada's colonial legacy has and continues to have on Indigenous people. As more bodies are found at the sites of other residential schools, the need for real, substantive reconciliation is clear.

Over the last week, our union's Executive Committee and our Provincial Executive Indigenous Advisory Committee have been honoured to join Kwantlen First Nation to burn a sacred fire in honour of the bodies found and the survivors of residential schools. The fire was lit to coincide with our union's constitutional convention, and we are incredibly grateful for the partnership with and welcome from the Kwantlen First Nation:

I was amazed by the sacred fire, and it was a blessing to see other members present. I felt welcomed and at home. I am sure that the 215 children feel the same good energy needed to bring them back to the safety of our communities who are impacted by the residential school.
Verna Benson – BCGEU Indigenous Advisory Committee, Local 403

Being by the sacred fire was so grounding and healing. I also felt honoured for BCGEU and our Indigenous executive to be recognized. And yet, I felt more grateful for the community of Kwantlen First Nation to host our scared fire for the whole week.
Celeste Dunstan – BCGEU Indigenous Advisory Committee, Local 703

Meeting at the sacred fire last night was exactly what I needed. My heart and soul feel lighter. The drumming and singing and the wonderful welcome from Chief Marilyn Gabriel and the elders were so amazing. And the view of the sacred fire against the backdrop of the mountains and the Fraser River was breathtaking.
April Duffield – BCGEU Indigenous Advisory Committee, Local 303

Being welcomed into the community by Hereditary Chief Marilyn Gabriel was such an honor. Her family and community are so strong and accepting. I felt so at peace. I so enjoyed sharing our stories.
I felt the healing of the community was all around us, from the baby to the elders all coming together to share in the healing. I can still hear the crackling of the Sacred Fire, talking to my heart!
Way Lim Limt' (Deepest thanks)
Coralie Gregoire – BCGEU Indigenous Advisory Committee, Local 703

I'm proud that the BCGEU's Provincial Executive Indigenous Advisory Committee has taken a strong leadership role in deepening our relationship with Indigenous nations. I was honoured to be invited and spend time with the Kwantlen nation this last week and want to extend thanks on behalf of the union.
Paul Finch – BCGEU Treasurer

At our convention, BCGEU members committed to continuing our path of reconciliation in a number of ways, including:

  • Changing our union's name to the B.C. General Employees' Union removing the term "government", which has negative connotations for many Indigenous people and communities.
  • Making a donation to the Orange Shirt Day Society
  • Creating a memorial fund to be allocated in collaboration between our Provincial Executive Indigenous Advisory Committee and our Provincial Executive.
  • Creating an ongoing campaign to support recommendations from the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC)

In addition to these steps taken by delegates at convention, Indigenous members have recently formed an Indigenous Advisory Committee to advise our union's Provincial Executive on issues of concern to Indigenous members. The committee will be an integral part of our commitment to the implementation of the TRC's 94 calls to action (passed at our 2017 Convention) and our commitment to work with the B.C. government to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The BCGEU is committed to decolonization and breaking down barriers to participation for Indigenous members in our union. The process of reconciliation is often full of hard truths that may be uncomfortable for non-Indigenous people, but it is essential to engage in this process and take guidance from Indigenous members.

The labour movement is founded on the principles of justice, dignity and respect. We must be leaders in supporting the rights of Indigenous peoples both in society and in the workplace.

 

 

Earlier this month, our union's Indigenous Advisory Committee made a statement regarding the discovery at Kamloops Indian Residential School – click here to read that statement and their calls on government: https://www.bcgeu.ca/bcgeu_indigenous_advisory_committee_statement_on_discovery_at_kamloops_indian_residential_school



UWU/MoveUP