Firsts. I've been fortunate to experience so many in my two and a half years as president of the BCGEU.
This week was another first - a trip to the Vancouver Island communities of Port Hardy and Port McNeill to visit BCGEU members in their worksites. A trip I've looked forward to for a while.
We have hundreds of members on the north island in a variety of occupational sectors. I visited the Huckleberry House Child Centre, Service BC, liquor stores, government staff at the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operation and the Haida Way Motor Inn. I also met with health care workers employed by the health authority, plus we hosted a meet and greet to get to know members, and introduce them to each other.
Meeting members is one of the most important aspects of my job. I learn so much when I speak with members candidly and one on one. These visits are invaluable for fact finding. I'm grateful for the kindness members show me when I visit.
It won't surprise you that I have concerns about some of the things I hear. Like a move on the part of employers to create only part time positions rather than full time, family supporting jobs. I hear about punishing workloads, employers refusing to properly staff worksites, scheduling problems and more.
I want you to know your union supports you. We're here to ensure your collective agreement rights are observed. You can find your collective agreement here on the BCGEU website.
Stewards are our eyes and ears on the ground. I encourage members to speak with a steward when issues arise on the job. Your union needs to know so we can try to nip them in the bud.
Some worksites don’t have a steward, which can make it a challenge for us to learn about problems. We’d love to have a steward in every office. You can learn more here if you’re interested in taking on the role of a steward.
Worksite visits like the ones I did on the north island always reaffirm how hardworking and dedicated BCGEU members are.
Don't ever forget your union is here for you.