As you are aware, the 26 Legal Services Society lawyers represented by another union, the Professional Employees Association (PEA), have reached a stalemate at the bargaining table and have decided to conduct a strike vote.
The outstanding issue is wages. The PEA has launched a campaign to remind government that these workers at the Legal Services Society make over a third less than their colleagues in the Crown Counsel, and these workers are predominantly women and Indigenous lawyers. They are seeking a fair and equitable contract. You can show your support by signing the petition at https://www.pea.org/justice
The PEA strike vote is currently being taken with results expected to be announced next week, on or around October 15. There is every indication that the PEA will receive a strike mandate from its members.
The purpose of a strike vote is to send a clear signal to all parties that unionized workers are backing up their demands at the bargaining table. A strike vote does not necessarily mean that there will be job action. In fact, over 99% of unionized bargaining in B.C. is resolved without job action.
The PEA and the employer may return to the table after the strike vote and resolve their differences then. Or they may not. We simply do not know.
What is important to know is that once the strike vote is taken and is affirmative, the PEA will be in a position to issue a notice of job action at any LSS work location where PEA members work in the province, with the standard 72-hour advance notice period.
If and when we receive strike notice from the PEA, we will immediately notify impacted BCGEU members at LSS.
Should you encounter a picket line at your worksite, please respect it. When a picket line goes up, all union members, regardless of affiliation, are expected to respect it. Do not cross picket lines. Do not work remotely. A picket line is a picket line is a picket line. Crossing a picket line is a serious offense for any union member. BCGEU members who cross a picket line are subject to discipline, which can include up to being expelled from the union.
Job action can be difficult. However, in these moments our strength is the solidarity of working people standing together for what is right. Moreover, you never know, you may be next. The BCGEU contract with LSS expires March 31, 2020.
If you do encounter a picket line:
- Do not cross it;
- Find the picket captain and introduce yourself;
- Do not report to work. Do not perform work remotely. Call your supervisor and inform them you will not be at work due to the picket line.
- Ask the picket captain where you can join the striking workers on the picket line;
- If you wear a picket sign, make it clear that you are "in support/solidarity", and not "on strike"
In closing, you should know that the BCGEU has a very healthy strike fund. If BCGEU members at LSS are impacted by PEA job action, the supreme decision-making body of your union takes a decision how to support affected workers by issuing strike pay.
Unlike many other unions, BCGEU does have a policy to provide strike pay in these types of situations, but the decision rests entirely with the Provincial Executive. Strike pay amounts are also set by the Provincial Executive.
Please direct any further questions to your stewards or bargaining unit chair.
BCGEU Staff Representative – Lower Mainland
BCGEU Bargaining Unit Chair - LSS
Download PDF of notice here.
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