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LCBO workers across Ontario hit the picket lines for the first time

DAN CEARNS The Standard

DURHAM/KAWARTHA LAKES: For the first time in the organization’s history, Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) employees took to the picket lines, on Friday, July 5th.

More than 9,000 employees across Ontario, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), started strike action after negotiations broke down with the LCBO.

“We know the LCBO is Ontario’s best kept secret and we’re fighting to protect it,” said Colleen MacLeod, Chair of OPSEU’s bargaining team, in a statement. “We’ve been very clear, we won’t back down in our fight for a strong future for the LCBO and the public services funded by LCBO revenues.”

In a press release, OPSEU explained what was proposed, during negotiations, for a new collective bargaining agreement.

“We argued, we grow the LCBO to meet demand and increase convenience by opening more stores, increasing the hours of operation, and increasing warehousing, logistics and e-commerce capacity. Doing this will also expand public revenues, by increasing LCBO sales, which help fund our public services, like health care and education, as well as key infrastructure. When you buy from the LCBO, including spirit-based ready-to-drink beverages, that should help build Ontario, not pay for a billionaire’s new yacht. Our plan would also support good jobs at the LCBO and in our communities. Having more permanent part-time and permanent full-time job opportunities means greater product knowledge and even better customer service.”

The LCBO stated, they are “disappointed the leadership of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) has decided to initiate the first strike in our long history.”

“For the past several months, we have engaged in collective bargaining with OPSEU, in hopes of reaching a fair and equitable agreement [which] addresses their considerations, while ensuring the long-term sustainability of our operations. Despite our best efforts, we have not yet been able to do so. LCBO is committed to maintaining the highest standards of service we can, during this challenging time. We have implemented contingency plans, to help minimize disruption as much as possible and ensure our products remain available to our valued retail and wholesale customers. We will be operating our business, but it is not business as usual,” the statement added.

The LCBO statement explained how the business will operate during the strike.

“As we previously communicated, LCBO’s retail locations are now closed, for 14 days, while online ordering remains available, with free home delivery. Should OPSEU remain on strike, after the 14 days period has elapsed, 32 LCBO retail stores will begin to re-open, for in-store shopping and operate three days a week (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), with limited hours in effect. The LCBO is continuing to receive and fulfill wholesale orders, and beverage alcohol is available through the approximately 2,300 private retail points of sale across the province, including through LCBO Convenience Outlets, licensed grocery stores, The Beer Store, and winery, brewery, cidery, and distillery outlets, as well as at bars and restaurants.”

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