LCBO Strike Looming

LCBO employees holds information picket outside of LCBO on Howard Ave. in Windsor. May 19, 2017. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

Unionized workers at Ontario’s liquor stores are a step closer to walking off the job.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents the LCBO workers, has asked the Ontario Ministry of Labour for a “no board” report. The union says working conditions in LCBO stores are “deteriorating.”

If the ministry grants the no board report, the workers would be in a legal strike position 17 days later. That could lead to an LCBO strike heading into the Canada Day long weekend.

Workers voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in April.

“We have workers trapped in so-called casual positions for decades, working seven days a week, and bringing home an average of less than $30,000 a year,” said Denise Davis, chair of OPSEU’s bargaining team for LCBO workers. “And we have seasonal workers sitting at home while underpaid temp agency workers do their jobs. The status quo isn’t sustainable – and management’s proposals would make an already difficult situation worse.”

OPSEU’s president says the situation for LCBO workers is particularly troubling, especially given Premier Kathleen Wynne’s recent moves to improve Ontario’s labour laws.

“Just look at the LCBO’s retail workers. It took a human rights complaint, more than three years of litigation, and an arbitrator’s award to force management to provide equal pay for equal work for part-time workers. Even after the LCBO finally agreed to settle, it took advantage of that moment to have the arbitrator force full-time workers to take cuts to offset the cost,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “And then just this past week, the premier held a press conference and told the media her government believes part-time workers are entitled to equal pay.”

Unionized LCBO workers have been without a contract since March.