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Special message from your Public Service Bargaining Committee - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

Special message from your Public Service Bargaining Committee

Last fall, we conducted the most detailed and comprehensive preparations for public service negotiations in BCGEU history. This included reviewing nearly 500 proposals from union locals, 5800 bargaining survey results and polling results from over 5000 members. By engaging in extensive consultation with you, we learned about your challenges, your needs, and your priorities for this round of bargaining.
Your direction has been and continues to be clear: you want a fair and equitable contract that addresses the rising cost-of-living and recognizes how critically important public service workers are to British Columbians.
Time to catch up and keep up
We understand that cost of living (COLA) protection is key to ratifying an agreement. Last month, that message was amplified when 95 per cent of you voted YES in the largest strike vote in our union’s history, giving your bargaining committee an overwhelming strike mandate to stand strong behind our demands. The bottom line is that cost of living protection is required to ensure that our members and their families can catch up and keep up. 
As inflation continues to skyrocket – currently reaching 8.1 per cent in B.C. – it erodes workers' spending power. Cost of living protections for wages has become a key issue for all workers, sectors and their unions including the BCGEU. Across the public sector, other unions are engaged in the same fight with similar goals. COLA is a reasonable demand and affordable under the province's fiscal framework. This means that the government will not have to raise taxes to achieve this. MLAs of all parties and minimum wage earners will have wage increases tied to inflation. All workers deserve this.
Why is the government’s proposal not acceptable?
Simply put, we are not interested in negotiating wage cuts for our members. The government’s current offer on the table is inadequate and shows how out of touch with reality the government is. Anything less than cost-of-living protections is a wage cut. No worker should be expected to take a wage cut. 
Your bargaining committee has clearly communicated to government that a signing bonus is not acceptable in this high inflation environment and that it needs to be rolled into a general wage increase that lifts wages into the future. 
Our approach to date has been to apply increases on the salary grid retroactive to April 1st of this year to ensure wages match or exceed the rate of inflation in each year of the agreement. The government’s approach seems to be focused on one-time payments, which after taxes, do not provide protections from inflation. We need a collective agreement which meets your needs now and as well as three years from now.
Let’s get back to the table
While we were not surprised that your employer decided to go around your bargaining committee to communicate directly to you, we find it deeply disappointing that this government would employ a tactic usually employed by right-wing anti-worker government and employers. This approach by the provincial government effectively undermines the bargaining process. We appreciate the hundreds of comments and feedback you have given us since yesterday and throughout this process.
We want the government to roll up their sleeves and send their bargaining team back to the table with the mandate to negotiate a fair deal that meets your demands. It’s time to stop playing games. There is a deal to be had at the table and we want to get to work to achieve it. Thank you for your ongoing support.
In the news
You may have seen BCGEU President Stephanie Smith’s interviews featured in numerous media stories throughout the province yesterday. Here are a few links in case you missed them:

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
Kayla Woodruff, Member at Large - Component 6
Maria Middlemiss, Vice President - Component 12
Matt Damario, Component 12
Robert Davis, Vice President - Component 20
Michael Eso, Secretary and Lead Negotiator
Lisa Lane, Support Staff

Download PDF of notice here