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March 04, 2022

Letter: BCGEU librarians call on VIRL Board of Trustees to #respectVIRLlibrar...

On Thursday March 3, 2022, all 48 BCGEU members working as librarians for the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) submitted a group letter to the library's Board Trustees.

Read their letter here.

The letter called on all 38 trustees to ensure that librarians' next collective agreement provides them with fundamental support – including a psychologically safe and respectful workplace, and wages that align with other libraries and lessen the impact of cost of living and inflation – which are needed to continue serving their communities.

In sending the letter, the librarians hope that the trustees will urge VIRL management, who they oversee, to make the librarians a respectful and fair offer immediately and prevent any further job action and subsequent impacts on the community.

Librarians do NOT want to take job action. They WANT to return to negotiations, and they want a fair collective agreement that recognizes the value of their work to the communities they serve. However, without a fair and respectful offer, they will be forced to escalate their actions.

Echo your VIRL librarians' call by tweeting at your local or regional VIRL Board Trustee! Add their Twitter handle (which you can find here) to the following tweet:

Hey [insert your trustee's handle] and @VI_Library board, please #respectVIRLlibrarians by giving them a fair and respectful offer! We need our library services!:


The VIRL Board of Trustees includes elected representatives from 28 member municipalities and 10 regional districts from across Vancouver Island, from parts of Greater Victoria to Port Hardy including the Gulf Islands, Haida Gwaii and Bella Coola. VIRL board trustees are responsible for guiding and supporting the library system's operations including the hiring of executive and management staff who are responsible for bargaining with librarians.

VIRL librarians have been without a contract since December 2020. Bargaining did not begin until September 2021, delayed due to the employer. Despite intervention from a mediator, negotiations hit impasse in mid-February 2022. Librarians then voted 95% in favour of striking for their needs, and despite hearing that result and receiving 72-hour strike notice, the employer has still not provided a fair and respectful offer to librarians. As of Thursday, March 3, librarians have been in a legal position to take job action.

Follow #respectVIRLlibrarians on Twitter and Instagram for updates.


March 02, 2022

Seventy-two hour strike notice filed: librarians on Vancouver Island urge ele...

BURNABY, B.C. (COAST SALISH TERRITORIES) – The BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) served the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) board with 72-hour strike notice on Monday, February 28. The union's move means libraries in many communities on Vancouver Island and neighbouring islands could be behind picket lines as early as 8 a.m. Thursday, March 3. The BCGEU is calling on elected representatives serving on local councils and regional districts to prevent this from happening.

"Librarians don't want job action," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "What they want is a fair collective agreement that recognizes the value of their work to the communities they serve, protects their wages from sky-rocketing inflation, and gives them the safe, healthy workplaces they deserve. What they've gotten from their employer so far is unnecessary delays and proposals that can only be described as disrespectful. It's unacceptable."

VIRL is governed by a board of trustees made up of elected representatives from 28 member municipalities and 10 regional districts. The union says those trustees have a role to play in preventing job action and maintaining library services for their communities. In mid-February, the 48 librarians covered by the collective agreement voted 95 per cent in favour of job action to back their proposals after mediation between the two parties in January failed to produce an agreement.

"Trustees are responsible for guiding library operations and that includes hiring the staff who are at the table with our members bargaining this contract," said Smith. "These trustees are also responsible to the people who elected them. It's high time they got involved to help prevent the withdrawal of library services."

For more information, contact: [email protected]

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 including the 48 librarians who work for the Vancouver Island Regional Library.


The key issues are wages not keeping up with inflation, ongoing occupational health and safety issues including workplace violence and mental health impacts, and disrespectful working conditions.

Despite use of a mediator from the Labour Relations Board, bargaining hit impasse in mid-February 2022 when the employer refused to provide cost-of-living wages and minimizing proposals to address workplace violence.

The union has 90 days to exercise its right to strike. This means job action can occur any time after 8 a.m. March 3. A strike is only one form of job action available to librarians. This is often the last resort as it could involve the closure of some or all VIRL branches. Other forms of job action librarians could take include working to rule or rotating strikes. Library workers who are CUPE members would not cross a BCGEU picket line. 

Librarians have been without a collective agreement since December 2020.

The 48 librarians are responsible for library operations at 39 branches across Vancouver Island from parts of Greater Victoria to Port Hardy including the Gulf Islands, Haida Gwaii and Bella Coola.

The library system is governed by a board of trustees who, in accordance with B.C.'s Library Act, is made up of elected representatives from 28 member municipalities and 10 regional districts.


February 23, 2022

BCGEU welcomes progressive vision, new spending, and strong economic outlook ...

A progressive vision for inclusive and clean growth, continued support for critical public services like healthcare and childcare, and the announcement of a new year-round B.C. Wildfire Service are just some of the highlights in what the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) is calling a "bargaining budget".
"The devil is always in the details but on first glance there's a lot for our members and all working people in British Columbia to be hopeful about in this year's budget," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "For instance, a year-round wildfire service is something we have been working on for years, so it's good to see that becoming a reality. And continued investments in public services to support priorities like childcare, housing, homelessness, reconciliation, and affordability, while modest, are positive steps."
But while one of B.C.'s largest and fastest growing labour unions supports government's broad environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments, the BCGEU's focus is on the budget's economic and fiscal outlook and the implications for collective bargaining.
"Almost 80 per cent of BCGEU members in the public sector will be negotiating collective agreements in 2022-some are already at the table," said Smith. "These are the people who have kept our province operating in the face of unimaginable challenges over the past few years and they have made it crystal clear to their bargaining committees-financial issues will be key to reaching agreements."
"With inflation at thirty-year highs and the Bank of Canada expected to start increasing interest rates next week, BCGEU members and all working people are falling behind," Smith continued. "In that context, the debt, deficit and revenue numbers in the budget are extremely good news and we are looking forward to making sure the province's strong economic and fiscal position is reflected in our members' collective agreements."

Click here to read our full analysis of Budget 2022/23
Link to Bargaining Media release:

For more information contact: BCGEU Communications at 604-291-9611 or [email protected]


February 18, 2022

Official statement from the BCGEU on unauthorized use of logo for protest eve...

The BCGEU has recently learned that our logo is being used without authorization on promotional material for a "protest" event planned for next week. 

We want to be clear that our union is not associated with, nor do we support, the event or its organizers in any way. This is an unlawful action on the part of the organizers. We are considering all legal options before us to hold the responsible parties accountable for this egregious conduct.

Since the beginning of the pandemic the BCGEU has advocated for decisive, evidence-based public health measures and supported the thousands of frontline workers who have done extraordinary work to keep us all safe and continue delivering the vital public services people in British Columbia rely on. Our positions have not changed.


February 14, 2022

Black History Month 2022- Part 3 - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

For the past two weeks we have shared a number of events taking place in celebration of Black History Month. This week we have more exciting events taking place! All the events we are sharing are free events or little cost for upcoming concerts. All are great opportunities to hear speakers and learn about ways we can fight against racism, learn about black history and enjoy great entertainment. Below are events taking place throughout this week. 

We encourage you take advantage of these events and continue celebrating black history not just this month but every day!

Black History Awareness Society

Dr. Cornel West "Being a Hope Amid Crisis"Feb 16th 5-6pm online
Visit their website to register

VDLC and the NWDLC

Candace Knoll and Parker Johnson:
February 16th: Register here

BCIT events: Find out more

February 16 – Respectful Workplace Training In-person (via Zoom)
February 18 – Dealing with Microaggressions in the Workplace 

SFU lecture series

February 17th: Homegoing: Blackness and Belonging across the Canada/US Border
Feb 21st 7-8:30pm Music Performances with Dawn Pemberton and Louise Rose at Belfry Theatre. Find out more


February 10, 2022

Throne Speech 2022 - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

The spring legislative session started Tuesday, February 8th with the government's Speech from the Throne. Throne speeches are government's opportunity to establish priorities for the legislative session. This was the Horgan government's third throne speech since the last election in the fall of 2020 and it provided some insight into what to watch for in government's Economic Plan -- expected sometime next week -- and the budget -- which will be delivered on February 22.

Some of the highlights from the speech that are most relevant to BCGEU members included: 

  • A recommitment to implementing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) through an Action Plan and a Reconciliation Secretariat that are expected to be announced in detail in the coming months. Our union will work closely with members impacted by the implementation of the action plan as details are revealed.
  • A commitment to separate the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) into two ministries in the coming months. The government's plan is to have one ministry charged with stewardship of BC's lands and resources and to link that work to the implementation of DRIPA. We expect to learn more details about the new ministry in the budget and, again, we will be working closely to support and advocate for BCGEU members through the transition.
  • A plan to review and renew key parts of BC's healthcare system by working with other provinces and Ottawa to secure an increase to the Canada Health Transfer. This initiative has the potential to impact BCGEU members working throughout the healthcare system and our union will be monitoring the government's efforts in this area to ensure members are informed, engaged and supported through any changes that result.
  • A commitment to continue work to modernize the Royal BC Museum. BCGEU members were front and centre in initiating this process and they have been deeply involved in every step of the renewal. We are proud of what they have achieved and our union will continue to support these members as this important work moves forward.
  • A commitment to move responsibility for child care into the Ministry of Education in 2022 and manage child care programs through new regional offices. We expect to hear more details in the budget. This is part of government's multi-year ChildCare BC strategy, which is built on sector-wide changes that BCGEU members have advocated for for years. The BCGEU supports and applauds government for recognizing that child care workers are educators and we understand this move will impact many members working in front line child care as well as ministry positions. Our union will work closely with all impacted members to ensure a smooth transition. 

You can read/watch the speech here.
We look forward to hearing more details about government's plans in next week's announcement of the Economic Plan as well as the budget release the week after. We will provide an analysis of both.


February 09, 2022

Public service bargaining officially underway between BCGEU & B.C. government...

Negotiations for the 19th Main Public Service Agreement, which covers you and 31,500 other BCGEU members employed by the provincial government, officially kicked off yesterday morning.

Before your bargaining committee and the B.C. government's Public Service Agency (PSA) exchanged proposals, Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President and Chair of the BCGEU Public Service Bargaining Committee, provided these opening remarks:

"Through everything the last three years has thrown at them, the more than 30,000 BCGEU members covered by this agreement kept showing up to support the families and communities that rely on the services they provide."

"They've demonstrated commitment, resilience, and professionalism as the ground has shifted beneath their feet. And, most importantly, they've learned their value and grown their solidarity in preparation for this round of bargaining because they know the stakes have never been higher for them or for our province."
We also heard from Deputy Minister Bobbi Sadler who heads the PSA bargaining team who thanked members for the work of the public service through the pandemic, but indicated that government's ability to address wages are limited and expects negotiations to be challenging.

BCGEU Public Service members have made it clear in their proposals to your bargaining committee: financial issues are key to a tentative agreement. With inflation currently running at well over 4 per cent annually, the challenges in these negotiations are clear to your committee.

As you may already know, the Public Service Agreement has two parts (Component agreement and Main agreement) which are negotiated by separate tables (Component tables and the Main table). Proposals negotiated at the Component tables are limited in scope (non-monetary) and any proposals that cannot be settled at the Component tables are then dealt with at the Main table alongside monetary issues and significant collective issues.

Some gains were made on numerous proposals at the Component tables last week (January 31 to February 4) by each respective component bargaining committee. These agreements are being finalized and will be reported out later this week.

The employer and the union tabled language proposals to begin talks with financial matters to be tabled later.

Main table negotiations are scheduled through March 11 and are taking place in Vancouver this week and Victoria next week, with all COVID-19 safety measures in place.

As a BCGEU member covered by the Main Public Service Agreement, expect to receive regular bargaining updates from our union every step of the way throughout the bargaining process.

In solidarity,

Your BCGEU Public Service Bargaining Committee

Stephanie Smith, President
Paul Finch, Treasurer
Judy Phipps, 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 Acting First 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
Michael Eso, Secretary and Chief Negotiator
Lisa Lane, Support Staff

Public Service Bargaining Committee


February 07, 2022

Black History Month 2022- Part 2 - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

As we begin the second week of Black History Month we want to bring your attention to a few free events that begin this week. We encourage you take advantage of these events and learn about Black history in B.C., learn about anti-racism from honored guest speakers and continue celebrating not just this month but every day! 

B.C. Black History Awareness Society sponsored free events:

Feb 11th – 27th all day/ in-person “Dynamic Diasporas” at Vancouver Mural Fest: Winter Arts Fest

Feb 12th 1-4pm in-person “Black History and Heritage Day” at Royal BC Museum

Feb 16th 5-6pm online Dr. Cornel West “Being a Hope Amid Crisis”

Visit their website to register


VDLC and the NWDLC sponsored event:

Two part discussion with guest speakers, Candace Knoll and Parker Johnson:

February 9th and 16th: Register here


BCIT free events and workshops open to all:

February 11th & 25th: Register here for Unpacking Islamophobia and Countering Cyberhate SFU lecture series



February 04, 2022

BCGEU begins bargaining collective agreements covering more than 64K members ...


February 4, 2022


Starting the last week of January, the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) is bargaining six separate collective agreements that cover a total of approximately 64,000 of the union’s members.  

Negotiations for three agreements have already started: 

  • The Health Services and Support—Community Subsector (Community Health) agreement is a multi-union agreement covering more than 13,000 BCGEU members. Negotiations opened on Thursday, February 3rd. 
  • The Main Public Service agreement covers approximately 31,500 BCGEU members who work for the provincial government. Component tables opened on Monday, January 31st. Main table negotiations open on Tuesday, February 8th.  
  • The Community Social Services agreement covers more than 11,000 BCGEU members. Negotiations opened on Wednesday, February 2nd.  

Bargaining dates have been set for the other three agreements, all of which are multi-union agreements: 

  • The Health Facilities and Health Science Professionals agreements, which cover a total of nearly 5,000 BCGEU members, are set for February 11th and February 28th respectively. 
  • Agreements in the post-secondary sector cover a total of approximately 6,000 BCGEU members. Negotiations for Instructors are set for February 28th. Negotiations for Support staff are still to be determined. 

Key issues for BCGEU members covered by all agreements include: 

  • Compensation that addresses the rising cost of living as well as persistent recruitment and retention issues in these critical sectors. 
  • Working conditions that protect the physical, psychological, and mental health of workers. 
  • Agreement language that respects workers; promotes equity, diversity, and inclusion; and supports the long-term sustainability of BC’s public service.  

Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU and chair of the union’s public service bargaining committee, will be available for media interviews by Zoom on Monday, February 7th between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. 


Please click here to read background information on bargaining


For more information contact: 
[email protected]  or (604) 291-9611