On Friday, September 15 Gateway Casino filed an application in BC Supreme Court seeking an injunction that would have severely restricted picketing at the Penticton location. Gateway's application relied on video and other evidence that allegedly showed our members trespassing, delaying vehicles, and intimidating casino clients.
The Court heard the application on Monday and issued a ruling on Wednesday, September 19th. The Court denied Gateway's application because the evidence presented did not show unlawful activity by BCGEU members.
This ruling is great news-not just for BCGEU casino workers currently on strike at Gateway's four Okanagan casinos, but for all unions in BC-because the Court's oral reasons uphold picketing as an exercise of free expression and workers' rights.
While this ruling is something to celebrate, the Court also directed BCGEU leadership to communicate with our members about the principles of lawful picketing and the potential dangers of unlawful activity on the picket line. I support this direction from the Court because I believe it is vitally important that our members on the line in the Okanagan are exercising their rights in a way that ensures Gateway will not be able to return to Court to try for another injunction in the future.
The principles below relate directly to Gateway's allegations and don't cover all aspects of picketing but they should be very familiar to many of you because they reflect the direction the BCGEU gives to all members on the line. If you have questions about these principles or any other aspect of picketing, please refer to that written direction and contact your picket captain.
I've had several opportunities to visit and walk all four picket lines since June 29th and I'm impressed with the strength and solidarity shown by all of our striking casino workers. On behalf of your union, I'm proud to stand with you and support you as you fight for the fair collective agreement you deserve.
Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president
Principles of Lawful Picketing
- Minor, incidental use of private property, such as momentarily stepping on a sidewalk to get out of the way of vehicle traffic, is not unlawful.
- Picketers may not follow vehicles into the parking lot, or otherwise proceed into the property.
- Verbal insults are not unlawful but picketers should remain courteous and respectful even when managers and/or clients are not.
- If managers are recording the activity of picketers, picketers should be recording as well.
- Picketers may walk across entrances and exits at a normal pace.
- If a vehicle arrives while a picketer is in the entrance/exit, the picketer should continue to the other side.
- If a vehicle approaches or is in an entrance/exit where picketers are not currently walking, picketers should not walk in front of that vehicle.
- When a vehicle stops to wait for picketers to clear an entrance/exit a picketer may approach the driver, explain the reason for the picket line, and ask the driver not to cross it. During this interaction, it would be best if the picketer had leaflets to hand to the driver. The interaction may continue as long as the driver wishes.
- Picketers may not stand or walk in front of a vehicle crossing the picket line. The driver must be able to safely cross the picket line if they choose to.