Cascades Casino employees in Kamloops continue to soldier on along the picket line as their union is back at the negotiating table this week.
Workers joining union help keep child care centre open
DTES daycare to stay open at least until November
(Vancouver) After workers at the Phil Bouvier Child and Family Center in Strathcona voted 95% in favour of joining the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU), the employer, who had previously threatened to close the daycare, agreed to a settlement which would keep the centre open for four more months.
After the union brought an unfair labour practice application to the BC Labour Relations Board (LRB), the Vancouver Native Health Society (VNHS), who runs the centre, agreed, on the eve of hearing, to keep the daycare open.
The Phil Bouvier Child and Family Centre is in the heart of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and serves a number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous families and children.
"The employees at the Phil Bouvier Centre came to the BCGEU because we have an excellent track record for representing community social service professionals, including child care workers, and we are glad they did," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.
"Our newest members care deeply about the children, families and community they serve and by joining the BCGEU they were able to apply collective pressure to help keep this unique and vitally important child care centre open."
The day after workers applied to join the union in late May, VNHS notified its staff, and the families using their services, that they intended to close the daycare. BCGEU filed a complaint with the LRB, on behalf of the workers, arguing that the closure was an attempt by VNHS to deny these workers their right to unionize. BCGEU asked for a "freeze period" that would allow the workers a chance to vote on joining the union and negotiate a collective agreement.
The LRB scheduled a hearing for June 9 -13, 2018. On the first day scheduled for hearing, VNHS settled the case by agreeing that it would keep the daycare open and not reduce any hours of operation until at least November 10, 2018.
"We understand the City of Vancouver has issued a grant to help the centre stay open for the short-term and we'll be urging them, and other levels of government, to commit to long-term funding that will keep these important services in the community," said Smith.
BCGEU members at the centre will now begin the process of negotiating a collective agreement with their employer.
"In the coming months we will be working with our newest members to negotiate a strong first collective agreement with the Vancouver Native Health Society to improve working conditions and job security. We will also continue working with the VNHS and other community stakeholders to keep the centre open," said Smith.
The BCGEU represents over 77,000 members across the province including thousands of members in child care and community social services.
BURNABY, July 9, 2018 – The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) has 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. As property prices across B.C. continue to escalate, pushing home ownership outside the realm of affordability, access to affordable housing has become a central concern for BCGEU members.
The submission offers recommendations grouped around three core policy directions required to improve life for tenants in B.C. including resourcing and reforming the Residential Tenancy Branch; reforming residential tenancy law and regulations; and increasing the supply of affordable rental housing.
"More and more, workers across the province are seeing their incomes squeezed by high rents and find themselves in states of precarious housing," says BCGEU Treasurer Paul Finch. "If we want workers in our province to thrive, we have to improve protections for renters and ensure there is enough affordable rental stock for all British Columbians."
These recommendations are also in line with the union's report Building an Affordable B.C., co-authored by CUPE 1767 President Jared Melvin and Vice President Harpinder Sandhu, which recommends implementing a Land Value Capture (LVC) tax as the centrepiece of a recalibrated tax system. This tax would curb speculation on the part of developers and banks, who for years have been making runaway profits in an environment that is largely untaxed and unregulated.
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.
For more information contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications, 604-719-4713
Unionized Gateway Casinos workers in Kamloops, Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton intend to walk off the job today at 3:01 p.m.
More than 675 Gateway workers affiliated with the BC Government and Service Employees' Union will set up picket lines in front of the Cascades Kamloops, Cascades Penticton, Playtime Kelowna and Lake City Vernon casinos after mediation talks broke down earlier this week.
One of B.C.'s largest unions is tackling the issue of housing.
The B.C. Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU) will host a panel of experts and community members in Kelowna Tuesday, July 3 to speak about different ways to tackle the affordability crisis.
Gateway's Okanagan casino workers on strike
Workers in Kamloops, Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton will walk off the job on Friday
(Okanagan) Over 675 members of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) working at Gateway Casinos in the Okanagan are walking off the job at 3:01 pm on Friday, June 29. Casino workers at Cascades Kamloops, Cascades Penticton, Playtime Kelowna and Lake City Vernon are set to strike after mediation broke down earlier this week.
"Our members are asking for living wages that would bring them in-line with the industry standard for casino workers in BC," says BCGEU President Stephanie Smith.
"These workers are the heart of their casinos. Gateway is a successful company in a highly profitable industry – they can afford to pay their staff what they are worth."
Smith explains, "by paying workers living wages, the money that Gateway makes in the Okanagan stays in the local economy instead of going to Vancouver, or even Ontario where Gateway owns several large properties."
In a vote held from June 4 to 6, over 88% of Gateway staff in all four Okanagan casinos came out and voted 93.1% in favour of taking strike action. On Monday, June 25, the union delivered the required 72-hours-notice of strike action.
Gateway's Okanagan staff have been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement since the last one expired in September 2017.
Negotiations broke off in May after the employer refused to offer wages and benefits that are industry standard at comparable casinos. Both parties met for a few days of mediated talks over the past two weeks but could not reach an agreement on key monetary issues.
Smith says the employer's offer is unacceptable. "The wages Gateway are offering won't even keep ahead of the planned minimum wage increases."
"Our members will be standing strong on the picket lines until they get a fair offer from the company."
BCGEU represents around 675 staff spread across Gateway's four casinos in the Okanagan: Playtime Casino in Kelowna, Lake City Casino in Vernon, and Cascades Casinos in Kamloops and Penticton. BCGEU members work in table games, as slot attendants, cashiers, in the count room, kitchen, security, guest services and maintenance.
Yesterday, we welcomed the final report on the independent professional reliance review, the result of an eight-month review process led by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to examine professional reliance in the natural resource sector. The comprehensive report clearly identifies the problems with professional reliance and provides concrete recommendations to make the system work better for everyone.
We urge the provincial government to move forward immediately on the recommendations and to take meaningful steps toward restoring public trust in government decision-making.
The professional reliance model was adopted by the former B.C. Liberal government as part of a dramatic plan to reduce "red tape" and weaken environmental and health protection laws. B.C.'s civil service – the professionals responsible for stewarding B.C.'s resources and natural environment – was slashed by over 25 per cent. Qualified professionals, hired by industry, assumed greater responsibility for decision-making and oversight of projects, often at the expense of the public interest and the environment.
I believe that the government needs to reclaim its leadership role in resource and environmental stewardship. For too long, corporations were allowed to certify their own resource plans and police their own operations, creating a conflict of interest.
The report puts forward 121 recommendations as a roadmap to improve and strengthen the rules governing natural resource management and environmental protection including:
A key recommendation in the report is to significantly improve staffing, capacity and organizational culture in key government agencies that are mandated with land use planning, protecting wildlife and habitat, stewarding forest and mineral resources and ensuring that our air and watersheds are properly managed. The report identified that a "culture of deference" that leads many resource managers see their primary role as advocating for a particular industry, or that they are unable to speak out about issues that arise.
I was encouraged to see many of our members' concerns reflected throughout the final report. Our members, many of whom directly work to protect our environment and manage our natural resources, know first-hand the problems of the professional reliance system. You can read our submission to the provincial government here.
Reforming the professional reliance system is an important step forward for the province. However, for real change to be made on-the-ground, the provincial government must also improve legislation that governs our natural resources and rebuild the public agencies mandated to protect our land, water and natural resources.
I look forward to continuing to bring our members' voices and concerns to the provincial government and in ensuring that the recommendations of this timely report are brought to life.
To build our collective power, BCGEU has joined forces with the Professional Employees Association, Ecojustice, Organizing for Change, the BC Wildlife Federation and others in the non-profit and union communities to reflect the concerns of the public, government officials and concerned and knowledgeable individuals.
You can read the final report of the Professional Reliance review at: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/professionalreliance/
KELOWNA, June 29, 2018 – Since taking power, government has implemented a number of major policy changes and promised to invest billions into affordable housing. This has been a great start but as housing prices continue to soar, the Okanagan has become one of the least affordable regions in Canada, and many people across the political spectrum feel more can be done.
This event will host a panel of experts and community members to speak about different ways in which they are helping to tackle the affordability crisis.
The panel, moderated by BCGEU Treasurer and co-author of the report Building an Affordable B.C. Paul Finch, includes:
The BCGEU will also present recommendations from the report Building an Affordable B.C. (www.affordablebc.ca/our-plan), including how the provincial government can strengthen its 30-point housing plan to address the root of the crisis: speculation on the part of financial institutions and wealthy investors in the housing market.
WHAT: BCGEU to host public meeting on housing affordability crisis
WHEN: Tuesday, July 3, 2018, 6:30 pm start (doors open at 6:15 pm)
WHERE: BCGEU Kelowna Office, 1064 Borden Avenue
Read more about the event here and see our post-budget media release here: Government must take bolder action on speculation tax
For more information contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications Officer at 604-719-4713 or firstname.lastname@example.org