BCGEU Dubs Gateway Claim Denial a ‘Victory’

By Ben Hamill - October 11 2018

BCGEU union members striking outside casino

The British Columbia Government Service Employees Union (or BCGEU) has praised the decision of local courts to deny the authoritative order recently filed by Canada’s Gateway Casinos against striking employees, calling it a ‘victory’ for provincial unions.

Gateway Casinos filed an injunction request to the BC Supreme Court against strikers at Penticton Cascades Casino. The gaming operator alleged that the employees who had gone on strike had trespassed, harassed and intimidated customers, and had also harassed non-unionized employees who had chosen not to take part in the picket.

Picketers Intimidate Patrons

A few days ago, a Supreme Court judge threw out this application, which was filed in September. The filing named the BCGEU, the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Union Local No. 401 (UFCW), and a Jane Doe, John Doe, and other ‘persons unknown’ as the case’s defendants.

The evidence supplied by Gateway included a written statement confirmed by oath, which was submitted by general manager Michael Magnusson. Numerous short audio and video clips of the picket line between September 10 and 12 were also filed. Despite the video footage depicting striking workers walking across the casino’s parking lot and gradually moving past the acceptable limits, the judge noted that there were no blockages made on the property.

The gaming establishment further blamed strikers for insulting non-union members and patrons by behaving in an ‘intimidating’ way. On this, the judge stated that this conduct is not against the law, despite being in generally poor taste. He elaborated that this was essentially the typical kind of verbal exchange one may expect from a picket line during a ‘bitter labor dispute’.

The Gateway Strike Continues

Back in September, Gateway filed an application in a bid to stop pickets from trespassing on the Pentiction property and bar them from gaining access to the gaming floor. The case’s hearing was held on September 17 in Vancouver, and Justice Michael Tammen ultimately denied the civil claim in his 13-page ruling.

As mentioned above, the BCGEU has hailed the court’s ruling as a huge victory for British Columbian worker unions, as it comes as a confirmation of workers’ rights to freely express themselves. BCGEU President Stephanie Smith has urged the irate operator to stop using ‘frivolous legal tactics’ and instead, get back to negotiating fair conditions for its staff.

This is a huge victory for British Columbian worker unions, as it comes as a confirmation of workers’ rights to freely express themselves

Around 675 unionized workers at Gateway’s Penticton, Kamloops, Kelowna and Vernon properties have been striking since June. They have demanded wage increases, and were not pleased with their employer’s original offer. Earlier in 2018, a company spokesman noted that the Canadian operator offered a wage increase of between 2.4% and 13% over the first year, along with 2% each year after that.

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