BC Place employees vote to strike as Grey Cup nears

600 staff could walk off the job before the Nov. 27 championship game

Canada’s Grey Cup could be in jeopardy if the union representing 600 employees at Vancouver’s BC Place – the venue hosting this year’s Canadian Football League championship game – can’t reach an agreement with building management.

UPDATE: BC Place employees issue strike notice

Members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) Local 1703 have voted 89 per cent in favour of a strike mandate after talks broke down with employer B.C. Pavilion Corporation (PAVCO) in September 2011. The union must provide a 72-hour strike notice within the next 90 days, should it choose to do so.

Security, maintenance, hosting and skilled-trade workers could walk off the job if the two parties don’t return to the bargaining table before BC Place is set to host the Grey Cup on Nov. 27, 2011.

“Our goal is to avoid a strike,” says BCGEU president Darryl Walker, who insists the union’s key demand is job security. “We want a fair collective agreement for our members, one that preserves jobs. We won’t accept concessions. We won’t accept contracting out or downgrading of our jobs from full-time to part-time.”

PAVCO wouldn’t comment on how the facility would operate if a strike took place, but did remain optimistic about the outcome of the negotiations.

“The management at PAVCO remains confident that ongoing mediation and negotiations will result in an agreement, and our understanding is that the union is also committed to negotiating an agreement acceptable to both parties,” a statement on the company’s website reads. “Further talks between BCGEU representatives and PAVCO are expected to resume by mid-October.”

The previous collective agreement expired in May 2011. BCGEU also represents food workers at BC Place, but those workers are covered under a separate collective agreement that expired earlier this year, as well. Negotiations with those workers are scheduled to resume in December.

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