Ratification

On this page you’ll find supporting documents for the ratification of the Public Service agreement, and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ).

Members ratified the new collective agreement on October 17, 2022, after two weeks of voting.


Frequently Asked Questions


Voting


All members must vote by electronic voting. There is no option to vote by paper ballot in this ratification vote.

Electronic voting (also known as e-voting or online voting) is a secure, fully digital process for casting a ballot.

The Public Service Bargaining Committee decided to use electronic voting for the ratification vote for a few reasons:

  • A vote using electronic ballots is faster than using paper ballots delivered by stewards in the workplace, which means members will have the results earlier, and if the agreement is ratified, the new provisions will go into effect sooner;
  • Using a third-party, online election platform, which both sends out the voting credentials and tabulates all the votes, ensures the integrity of the vote; and
  • Through the strike vote and job action campaign, our union has significantly improved our email contact lists for public service members to a level where using online voting is possible. At the time of the strike vote we were unable to contact many of our members electronically which was a major factor in choosing to use paper ballots at that time.

Simply Voting Inc. is an independent, full-service provider of securely hosted online elections. Their voting system was launched in 2003 and currently over 4000 organizations in 67 countries, from municipalities to political parties to unions, rely on Simply Voting to safely execute their elections. Many reputable third parties have audited the company’s product, technical infrastructure, and corporate infrastructure. Customers include the Alberta NDP, the California Teachers Association, the BC Federation of Labour, and the Mississauga First Nation.

You can find further details on the security and reliability of the voting software here: https://www.simplyvoting.com/security-and-reliability/

The vote starts at 8 a.m. on Monday, October 3, 2022 and ends at 5 p.m. on Monday, October 17, 2022. You may vote any time during that period.

Voting using Simply Voting is easy. Simply Voting will send you your voting credentials both by email and by regular mail, assuming you have provided the union with your current email and mailing address. If you have only provided one address (either email or mailing address) you will only receive your credentials via that address. You will receive your credentials by October 3, 2022.

Hard copies of the credentials were mailed one week prior to the date the vote opens. You will receive an email with your credentials on October 3, 2022. The email with your credentials will have the following sender address: [email protected]

To avoid having your credentials email redirected to your Spam or Junk folder, save this email address to your contacts now.

Your voting credentials will include your unique Elector ID (which is your BCGEU Membership number) and a password. These voting credentials are unique to you and can only be used once. Once you have submitted your ballot using your credentials, you will not be able to reuse them.

You can cast your ballot using any computer (desktop or laptop), tablet or smart phone. If you do not have a device to vote with, you can go to your nearest BCGEU office and vote there. You must bring your voting credentials with you, as staff cannot access your personalized credentials. However, at the area office, staff can provide you with access to a tablet or computer that you can use to cast your ballot.

If you have provided the union with your current mailing and email addresses, you should receive your voting credentials by October 3. If you have not received an email or letter with your credentials by October 3, do the following:

  1. Check your Spam or Junk folder to see if an email from [email protected] is there.
  2. If you started working on July 1, 2022 or later, and have not completed a BCGEU membership application, please go to https://www.bcgeu.ca/membership and complete this form. This will ensure you are entered into our membership database.
  3. If you cannot find the email after searching your Spam or Junk folder, you are not a new hire, and you did not receive a letter with your credentials, please follow this link and fill out the form: https://www.bcgeu.ca/missing_credentials

Please request your credentials as early as possible to ensure that there is time to verify your information, to confirm that you are eligible to vote and to provide you with your credentials. Your credentials will be emailed to you (we will not be able to send your credentials by mail). Please note that it could take 1-3 business days to receive your credentials.

If you have received your credentials, but are having technical issues trying to vote, please contact:

[email protected] or call: 1-888-568-6068 (available 24/7)

Please note that although the above email and phone numbers are accessible to you 24 hours a day, every day, your message will be responded to in the order that it is received, and it could take up to three business days to receive a response based on volume. As a result, please leave yourself sufficient time to cast your ballot in case you have any technical issues.

Simply Voting receives all the electronic ballots and will tabulate all the votes. The results will be emailed to the Public Service Returning Officer after voting closes.

Yes. Each Component will be entitled to invite up to two scrutineers to witness the receipt of the results of the election. A scrutineer cannot be a member of the bargaining committee. The role of the scrutineer is to observe the count process and to ensure that it is fair. In the case of an electronic vote, the scrutineers will be present when the email from Simply Voting is received by the Returning Officer and will witness the opening of the email and see its results.

The results of the vote will be communicated to all members as soon as possible.

No. Only members who are currently in the bargaining unit and are members of the BCGEU can vote.


Ratification


If this deal does not ratify, we'll be on strike. It would not be targeted job action; we would go on an escalated strike. The provincial government is currently in negotiations at several of the other sectoral tables: for example, Facilities Bargaining (HEU) settled slightly before us, and are also in the process of ratification. In addition, there are other sectoral tables, such as Community Health, Community Social Services, Post-Secondary, and Health Science Professionals, and government will continue to negotiate through their bargaining agents with those tables.

If ratification is voted down, the provincial government may eventually invite us back to the table. We can’t predict this. More than likely, we would be on an extended strike trying to break the government wage mandate.

It isn't a matter of going back to the table and building on what we achieved in terms of this ratification document. Basically, bargaining would start from square one. So yes, we could come back with a similar or slightly improved tentative agreement, but there is a chance that we would lose some of the things that we have been able to gain. This could include losing some of the historic accomplishments like Appendix N or eliminating the two-tier wage system for LDB Workers or protecting the LDB from privatization.

If the main agreement is voted down that takes down the main agreement and all the component agreements because they are subsidiary agreements to the main agreement. But if the main agreement ratifies and a specific component does not ratify -- and this has happened previously -- members will have to live with the 18th Component agreement, and they won't get any of the increases or improvements that were contained in the component agreement. If you think there's something that's important in your component agreement that you want to see for sure you should vote in favour of the supported agreement.

The first year of the agreement has a wage increase of $0.25 plus 3.24% effective April 1, 2022. The employer has control over paying this out. Generally, the employer applies the new wage rates first and then calculates retroactive pay. The application of the new wage rates should be very straightforward. Generally, retroactive wage increases may take longer as they require payroll to do individual calculations. The union will advocate for retroactive pay to be issued as quickly as possible.

Generally the employer issues this on the same cheque.

These calculations will be done on a manual basis by payroll.

All increases in this tentative agreement would be effective upon date of ratification unless it's otherwise specified. We wanted to move quickly on the ratification process, because if members choose to ratify the agreement, those improvements will take place immediately. For some of the improvements such as the two-days special leave, we wanted to make sure that people get a chance to get that in during this calendar year.


Flexible Work


The tentative agreement includes a letter that will give us some basis for developing new language for future rounds of bargaining. This is significant because it allows us to monitor how the current flexible work/work-from-home arrangements are coming out because we know they can be quite different ministry by ministry and even within a ministry.

The current collective agreement has existing language, and this letter will give us the facts and figures we need to improve language in the future. The employer says that over 40% of the public service has some form of flexible work agreement. We need access to details of these arrangements which our language in the tentative agreement will assist with.


"Me Too" Clause


The Me Too agreement is contained in a letter of agreement: it's essentially an agreement that ensures that if there are higher general wage increases that are negotiated in other public sector collective agreements, that the same wage increase will apply to members in this bargaining unit. This clause applies to all public sector agreements under the mandate of the Public Sector Employers' Council.


Leave


One of the issues that was identified during our pre-bargaining surveys was that members said that they needed more flexibility for work/life balance. Your bargaining committee agreed to two days within our 70-hours leave, with no reason needed for the leave. These two days are supplementary and are to assist members with work/life balance. The only caveats on these days relate to scheduling. But other than that, the days are yours to use as you wish without having to give a reason.

The two new supplemental leave days are effective now for this calendar year. They are part of special leave so they do not accumulate and cannot be carried forward. These days are subject to operational requirements, and as agreed in bargaining, these days cannot be attached to another leave. This means that they can't be added to vacation, stat weekends, other special leaves, etc. They can be attached to a modified work week day as those are scheduled days off and are not considered a leave.

Other details:

  • Employees will not be required to provide a reason for requesting to take this leave
  • The leave cannot be unreasonably withheld
  • It may be used in one-half shift increments
  • The hours taken from supplemental leave will also be included in the maximum entitlement for special leave of 70 hours per calendar year
  • Supplemental leave can be used in situations to support wellness, culture, lifestyle purposes and those instances where there is no other existing leave to support the absence (this list is not exhaustive). Other examples range from: Attending to the medical needs of their pet; accompanying their child on a school based event; participating in a cultural event or activity, such as Diwali.

Indigenous members will receive two days paid leave for cultural activities. Members of non-Christian religions can use up to three days unpaid. If you identify as both, you can utilize both types of leave, and they can't be unreasonably withheld.

Yes, presuming you meet the threshold that's contained in the Employment Standards Act, which is 90 days of employment. You have five days at full pay effective as of March 31st. If a member has taken sick leave time since the end of March that should have been paid at full pay, it will be credited back on request.

No, this is not part of the proposed deal.

This leave may be taken in half shift increments.


Wages


Signing bonuses are money that gets applied on a one-time basis. You get taxed on it, it doesn't apply to your pension and doesn't apply to your general wage increases. From the beginning of this negotiation, we wanted to see that money applied to the salary grid so that it applies across the board. It's there on your base wages; you get it paid every two weeks, and it's pensionable. We wanted it to apply on a compounding basis to provide the maximum benefit for members.

The wage calculator can be found at the bottom of this page.

Members have repeatedly told us the importance of wage protections for wages against inflation. The government told us very clearly that they need to be able to cost out what this collective agreement would be and that they were not prepared to enter into an agreement with uncapped COLA protections. Your committee was forced to make a difficult decision.

Do we ask all of you to go on strike pay again, potentially for an extended period of time? Or did we feel that we had come up against the limits of what government was willing to put on the table, and that it was time to give you your choice through your vote?

Your committee decided to bring it to you for a ratification vote. Now it is your decision whether this agreement has enough in there for you to vote yes to accept.

You can find your grid level on your pay stub or check your job/classification title in the collective agreement.

All Clerk 11s will be moving to Grid 12.

Yes the same percentage increase applies to per diems, except as otherwise noted.


Temporary Market Adjustments (TMAs)


The general wage increase is separate from the temporary market adjustments. The temporary market adjustments are negotiated to address vacancies, recruitment and retention issues, and they can show that those jobs require temporary market adjustment.

All current TMAs in the current collective agreement continue. MOU# 22 lists the additional positions covered in this tentative agreement. The wage calculator was developed to reflect the impact of the general wage increases.

There is some confusion about the CYMH workers and the answer to that is the terms 24 and 25 are used interchangeably. So yes, they are getting the grid adjustment whether or not they're referred to as 24s or 25s. It does apply to them. To estimate their wages, CYMH members should use R24 in the wage calculator and select the applicable temporary market adjustment.

All current TMAs continue.

The government had limited funding for recruitment and retention TMAs. The focus was to apply limited funds to those jobs with the highest recruitment and retention challenges.


Pandemic Pay


In 2020, Component 5 launched a lengthy campaign in order to secure pandemic pay for the warehouse and retail store members. This is because throughout the pandemic they had to come to work every day, and they were working with the public in an environment that was very uncontrolled. People were coming in without masks, at one point there were no safety measures put into place at all, but business had increased at Christmastime. It was an extremely scary period for a lot of members in the store, some of which slept in their car so that they wouldn't have exposed their family members. In the LDB warehouse they were working in close quarters as well. There were several outbreaks there, so those are the members that are included in this economic subsidy.

That's correct - pandemic pay was meant to include those workers who had to be at the worksites during the pandemic. This includes the store employees who were exposed to all of the hazards (including the distribution centers), as they were working with the public and/or in very tight quarters.

Yes auxiliary employees are covered if they meet the other terms of the deal.

This economic subsidy payment is equivalent to $4 an hour for a 16 week period retroactive to April 1, 2022 based on regular hours worked during this period.


Inflation/COLA (Cost of Living Adjustments)


Year two was always where we understood the real work was going to be, and the issue for us was that the year one is covering this period of time where we have seen inflation go from fairly moderate levels at the beginning of this year to skyrocket through the late spring and early summer. Why is there a cap? Because we could not move the employer any further. The government was not prepared to agree to uncapped COLA payments in the tentative agreement.

It's difficult for anyone to project what's going to happen in the last year. While a range of 2-3% is not as much as we had hoped for, it is more or less in line with current inflation forecasts.

We wanted more money applied early in years, and because that will provide a higher floor for people in year three. If inflation exceeds that three percent cap, we're on the cusp of negotiations for the next agreement, and so we would potentially be able to make that up at that point.

We ended up with caps on inflation in years two and three, because that was the only way to achieve a tentative agreement.

Because cost of living can be unpredictable over the term of a collective agreement, year two and three of this agreement include guaranteed wage increases as well as wage protections triggered by inflation, as measured by B.C. CPI.

  • April 1, 2023 – a minimum increase of 5.5%. If inflation during the 12-months prior exceeds 5.5%, members will receive a raise matching that increase up to 6.75%
  • April 1, 2024 – a minimum increase of 2%. If inflation during the 12-months prior exceeds 2%, members will receive a raise matching that increase up to 3%.

Benefits


Yes, that benefit improvement is included in the tentative agreement. In fact, the benefit increases that we were able to achieve this time were some of the last issues that we addressed in bargaining. We've increased the counseling services that are available through your benefit plan from $500 per family to $750 per person. This is a significant increase. For example, using a family of four as an example, coverage for counselling services would increase from $500 to $3000 assuming all family members utilize the service.

No. These changes to the benefit plan take effect on Jan 1, 2023, as benefits are determined on a calendar year basis.

We are getting clarification on this from the employer and the Ministry of Health who administer Pharmacare. We are clarifying the inter-relationship between our proposed collective agreement change and pharmacare eligibility as some of these costs are covered through this program.


Classifications


EAWs currently have an ongoing classification appeal and we did not want to impact this appeal.

EAW members asked that the union not deal with this appeal in negotiations given the potential retroactive pay if the appeal is successful.


Miscellaneous


Yes, you can view the webinar here.

Positions are filled according to the normal posting procedures outlined in the collective agreement. If positions are not posted in a timely manner, this may be grounds for a grievance. Please consult your steward.

Generally nurse practitioners have the ability to approve many medical letters.

This information will be forthcoming from BC Wildfire.

Effective April 1, 2020, employees will be reimbursed upon production of a receipt for 50 % of the cost of medical certificates as noted in Appendix 4. This has not changed in this round of bargaining.

Back in 1998, the union and employer agreed that all positions in government should be evaluated using gender neutral and pay equity principles. This created the Public Service Job Evaluation Plan (the Plan) that is used now. This meant that jobs across the public service were to be evaluated using one Plan, instead of several different job evaluation plans. This was an important step towards pay equity so that predominantly female jobs were evaluated using the same Plan as predominantly male jobs.

This shift in Plans resulted in grid shifts in numerous different positions, and in 2001 Appendix N was implemented to "broad band" all classifications grid 15 and higher. This ensured only a 3- grid spread between them. Classifications under grid 15 were not addressed in Appendix N, and have remained outstanding until the last round of bargaining in 2018, with no commitment from the government to address any other classifications.

In the last round of bargaining, we fought hard to get this issue on the government's radar and to ensure movement for members at the lower grid levels. These negotiations resulted in increases to grids 7 and 14, and for the first time, we were able to secure a letter confirming this government's commitment to explore options to address these concerns in the future, including in bargaining.

In this round, we were able to secure increases for grids 11 and 13, but unfortunately were not able to do so for grid 9s. We did table and fought hard for a proposal to increase the grid 9s at the higher level of the grid 9 point range bands which would have brought them up to the grid 12 range. We could not get agreement from the employer on this, and their response was that grid 9 classifications are at the correct level, and not part of the original Appendix N negotiations which achieves a 3-point spread that was the intent, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21 24 etc. They feel they have met their commitment.

We will continue to fight for this, and try outside of bargaining to push the issue. We spoke to the employer at length about the recruitment and retention issues we are seeing at the grid 9 level, and that we were concerned that members would be leaving in large numbers, and there would be an impact to services, but again, we could not get any agreement from the employer. The fight is not over though and we will continue to raise these issues with the employer through joint committee we have under our component agreement, Article 29-joint union management committees in all ministries, and all other avenues we have available.


Calculate your wage under the tentative agreement