August 10, 2018

The Provincial - Summer 2018 - BCGEU

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

  • MMIWG Inquiry
  • Professional reliance
  • Labour review
  • Bargaining update
  • Affordable BC campaign
  • Events and more…


Download the Summer 2018 issue 

Download the consolidated financial statements of B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union Dec 31 2017 here


August 03, 2018

President's message on 40 years of Vancouver Pride - BCGEU

Forty years ago, Vancouver Pride started with a handful of people struggling against homophobia and transphobia coming together in solidarity. In the beginning, it was a small group of activists that wanted to be proud of who they were and who they love, and has now grown into a vibrant celebration enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people. 

Today, there are Pride parades in communities large and small across British Columbia that embody what Pride is about- visibility and community for two-spirited, trans and queer folks.

This year, the BCGEU is proud once again to march in solidarity with the LGBTQI2S+ community alongside our members at the 40th Vancouver Pride parade. As a union committed to social justice, we have always supported equity and diversity in our union, in our workplaces and in our communities. 

But Pride is more than a parade and more than a celebration. Pride is a movement. And the Pride movement and the labour movement are united by common values and common goals. 

The Pride movement was started by activists demanding visibility, equality, rights, and respect. The Pride movement has made colleagues, friends and loved ones into allies, advocates, and activists. And the Pride movement has survived and thrived in communities on every continent, in every country, across the world- because the values it espouses are universal. 

We have come a long way, but there is still much more work to do to advance rights for all. That's why our union has a dedicated equity and human rights committee that meets regularly to raise awareness, deepen our knowledge and strategize to end discrimination in all its forms. 

The Pride parade is a moment to remember where the movement came from, to appreciate and celebrate everything the movement has achieved, and to recognize how much further we have to go.


In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith
BCGEU President


August 03, 2018

An Open Letter from Gateway Casino Workers in the Thompson-Okanagan – OUR COM...

Friday, August 3, 2018 

An Open Letter from Gateway Casino Workers in the Thompson-Okanagan – OUR COMMUNITIES DESERVE BETTER! 

Dear Community Members,

For over five weeks, almost 700 community members in the Thompson-Okanagan have been on strike. We are Gateway Casino workers fighting for respect and the ability to live in the communities we serve. We are parents, students, long-time employees – we are your neighbours and we're asking for your help.

We don't have to tell you the cost of living is rising in the Thompson-Okanagan region – you feel it as much as we do. Housing prices and rents are increasing, groceries are more expensive here than in larger urban centres and rising gas prices make life unaffordable for those who need to commute from smaller communities. It's no surprise that living wages, the base amount it takes to survive in our region, are around $17-18/hour.

Knowing this, Gateway Casinos, the largest gaming company in Canada, still refuses to offer decent wages. They use smokescreens and percentages designed to make us look greedy, out-of-touch, and unrealistic. The truth is, we are among the lowest-paid casino workers in Canada. Many of us, even those who have been with the company for over 10 years, still make $12-13/hour.

Gateway's wage offer will not stay ahead of planned minimum wage increases.
This is not an "offer," it is merely compliance with government law. To insist on paying employees the lowest wage legally allowed in BC is heartbreaking; it is a testament to what they believe their employees are worth – what they believe people in our communities are worth.

When Gateway says we don't deserve to be paid as much as casino workers on the coast,what they are really saying is the service they offer you in the Thompson-Okanagan is second-rate. We don't agree. We love our jobs. We work hard, in high-pressure environments, to offer you a top-notch entertainment experience.

The company has been taking aim at our tips. A tip is a reward for good service, it was never designed to be a supplement for poor wages. Gateway Casinos should not download the responsibility of paying a living wage onto our guests.The government does not even consider tips a dependable source of income and cannot be used towards things like CPP, mortgages, parental leave, EI and so on. Many casino workers don't receive tips at all.

In the last few years, Gateway Casinos has invested nearly half a billion dollars in various development projects – it's time they invest in their employees.When they pay living wages that allow us to live and shop in our communities, that money stays in the local Thompson-Okanagan economy rather than going to Gateway's holdings in Metro Vancouver, Alberta and Ontario.

We are not on strike to cash in – we are fighting a wealthy employer for the ability to survive. We have families, student loans and the same daily expenses as many of you, and we are struggling to get by. It's time for Gateway Casinos to stop profiting off our poverty.

Please help us in our fight by not crossing our picket lines and by telling Gateway how you feel. Call them, email them, write letters to the editor of our local papers. Visit our website at casinoworkers.ca for more ways to help.

So many of you have already come out to show your support and it means everything to us. Let's show Gateway Casinos that the people of the Thompson-Okanagan are not second-rate – that we deserve better!


Workers from Cascades Penticton, Playtime Kelowna, Lake City Vernon and Cascades Kamloops


August 02, 2018

BCGEU offers policy ideas for local governments to address affordable housing...

BURNABY – The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) has released a list of policy proposals titled "What Can Local Governments Do?", directed at municipalities who want to take bold action on issues of housing affordability. As property prices across B.C. continue to escalate, access to affordable housing has become a central concern for BCGEU members.

By focusing on measures that can be taken by local governments, the union hopes to engage with candidates running in the fall municipal elections, as housing affordability will undoubtedly be one of the main issues in many B.C. communities.

"Municipal governments possess powerful toolkits to address the need for affordable housing in their communities," says BCGEU Treasurer Paul Finch. "Much of what needs to be done is within their existing powers."

The eight recommendations include clearly defining "affordable" in relation to municipal housing policies, taking advantage of new rental-only zoning powers handed down by the provincial government, utilizing public land to build affordable housing, and offering tax incentives and benefits to accelerate affordable housing projects.

In addition, the union highlights key measures that the federal and provincial governments can take to help municipalities address the housing crisis, such as offering tax waivers and incentives for purpose-built rental housing projects and allowing local governments to mandate inclusionary zoning of affordable housing on new developments.

The plan is an addendum to the union's Building an Affordable B.C. report, co-authored by CUPE 1767 President Jared Melvin and Vice President Harpinder Sandhu, which mainly advocates for policy changes at the provincial level to curb real estate speculation. 

View the BCGEU's policy proposals for local governments here: https://www.affordablebc.ca/local_government 

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 Karen Tankard, BCGEU Communications, 604-473-5454


August 01, 2018

Union sees no value in highrise, urges city to reject proposal - BCGEU

Unionized provincial government workers have registered their opposition to a 25-storey highrise in central Kelowna.

The Brooklyn project should be rejected by city council, the BCGEU says, because it will do nothing to promote affordable housing in Kelowna.




July 31, 2018

BCGEU health care members ratify three-year deal - BCGEU

Members of a multi-union group working in B.C. community living homes and services have voted to accept a new three-year employment contract, eight months before the existing contract expires.

The contract covers 16,000 people and was recommended to members in June by the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union and others in the community health bargaining group.





July 30, 2018

BCGEU community health workers vote to accept new agreement - BCGEU

Burnaby- Community health sector workers, represented by the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) have voted strongly in favour of a tentative agreement reached with health employers. This agreement firms up a new three-year collective agreement for 16,000 union workers, which will take effect April 1, 2019 and expire March 31, 2022.

The new collective agreement brings in yearly wage increases of two per cent in each of the next three years in addition to enhanced benefits, provisions for improved scheduling and steps to address staff retention. Employees covered in this agreement work in home care support services, community service agencies, health authorities, provide services to seniors, and work in mental health and addiction services. 

"Community health workers deliver critical services to some of the most vulnerable British Columbians," says Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. "This agreement is an important step forward for our members and the communities they serve." 

Today's vote announcement comes after a tentative agreement was reached in mid-June, the result of weeks of negotiations between the Community Health Bargaining Association (CBA), a coordinated multi-union group, and the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC). 

The BCGEU represents over 77,000 members across the province including more than 10,000 community health service and support workers in B.C. Highlights of the agreement include: 

  • Wage increases of six per cent over three years for all workers
  • Improvement of employment security provisions
  • Creation of task force to investigate guaranteed hours and other issues 
  • Additional funding for Enhanced Disability Management Program



July 26, 2018

BCGEU celebrates 99 years in union movement - BCGEU

Can you believe we're almost a century old? Today, the BC Government and Service Employees' Union celebrates our 99th birthday.

Of course, we weren't known as the BCGEU back in 1919, but July 26 marks the anniversary of the first annual convention of the Provincial Civil Service Association of BC which, over the decades, grew to become the BCGEU. 

"At 77,000 members strong, the BCGEU is one of the fastest growing and most diverse unions in British Columbia," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "We have more than 500 certifications and we're adding members all the time. 

"Our members know that the BCGEU is a practical and principled union that has their backs. When workers have to stand up to an employer and go on strike, we use the economic power of our membership to help them reach a fair settlement."

In the past decade, the union's growth has come mainly from the community health and community social services sectors, but also from casinos, hotels and medical labs. 

Here's how we've evolved into one of the largest unions in the province:

1944: There's a name change to the B.C. Government Employees' Association (BCGEA).

1947: The first BCGEA newspaper, The Provincial, is issued as a result of a convention resolution. We still publish The Provincial magazine four times a year.

1970: The BCGEA becomes the BCGEU.

1974: The BCGEU becomes the bargaining agent for 25,000 public service workers.

1981: The BCGEU changes its name to add "service," to reflect non-government workers.

We've come a long way. The BCGEU is at once old and wise yet young at heart, strong and progressive. So, here's wishing us all a happy union birthday.



July 24, 2018

Casino workers vote yes on new agreement ending Hard Rock strike - BCGEU

BCGEU members thank customers for their support. 

(Coquitlam) - After being on strike for more than 10 weeks, over 400 members of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) working at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver in Coquitlam have voted in favour of a new agreement with their employer.

"BCGEU members at the Hard Rock casino stuck together through a long, tough fight and thanks to their strength and solidarity and the support of the labour movement and the community they now have a collective agreement that sets a new standard for casino workers in BC," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president.

"On behalf of every member of the BCGEU, I want to congratulate the Hard Rock workers and their bargaining committee," said Smith. "We couldn't be prouder of their commitment and resolve."

Employees at Hard Rock voted to join the BCGEU in May 2016 and have been trying to negotiate a first collective agreement with their employer since January 2017. When they reached impasse earlier this year, 99.5% of Hard Rock workers voted in favour of strike action.

Over 400 workers at the casino walked off the job on May 11, 2018 after mediation broke down. Major issues included wages and hours of work. Members voted down a tentative agreement on July 4th before getting clarification on what the impact of the employer's business restructuring decisions would mean for staffing levels.

"This ground-breaking deal shows the power of BCGEU members to make positive changes in any sector as long as they stand together," says Smith. "Hard Rock workers and their BCGEU bargaining committee have achieved an agreement that sets a new standard of fairness for casino workers across BC. Now it's time to make sure BCGEU members at casinos in the Okanagan get lifted up to that standard as well."

BCGEU represents thousands of casino workers in the province including over 400 staff at Hard Rock working in table games, as slot attendants, cashiers, in the count room, kitchen, security, theatre and guest services.