A big part of what we do as union members is to advocate for the importance of our work and for the citizens who benefit from the services that we provide. This advocacy takes many different forms – from government lobbying to social media and sometimes full media campaigns.
Across our union, we are standing up and taking part in a number of campaigns on issues important to you, our members.
With alarming levels of violence in our provincial prisons, the Corrections and Sheriffs Component 1 is raising awareness about the dangerous staffing levels in our jails. Fifteen years ago a correctional officer worked on a prison living unit with about 20 inmates. Today, correctional officers are working on units with up to 72 inmates per officer. Assaults at all levels are increasing. This campaign aims to reverse these numbers and make prisons and corrections work safer.
Our union continues to campaign to protect our public liquor distribution and retail system. You’ll hear Shop Public radio ads around the province heading into the Canada Day long weekend. We’re also campaigning against alcohol sold in grocery stores and have successfully lobbied municipalities to impose a one-kilometer rule on new alcohol retailers. Anticipating the federal legalization of marijuana, Retail Stores and Warehouse Component 5 is also campaigning to have the existing liquor distribution and retail system used once recreational marijuana becomes legal, for the safest and most responsible means of distributing the product.
In the next few years highways maintenance contracts around the province could change hands. Our union is campaigning to ensure that skilled, experienced highways workers currently maintaining our highways should be retained if a new contractor wins a maintenance contract. Our campaign is working. Highways maintenance workers in the East Kootenays now have seven years of job security. Hundreds of British Columbians have already signed the Local Crews Know Local Roads petition. If you haven’t yet, visit www.SafeHighways.ca and sign on.
The BCGEU’s home support campaign has begun and is scheduled to run throughout the year, with the goal of increasing funding for home support services that our members provide. As members are adapting local plans to address regional differences, the campaign will look different in each area and local.
We know how important our work is in the day-to-day life of British Columbians. When we stand up together we can make real, lasting improvements in the way our jobs are resourced and staffed.
These are just a selection of initiatives the BCGEU is involved in this year. Look for more information online and in your communities.