Equal pay for equal work! Q&A for LBED members

Many OPSEU members have had questions about the November 7 announcement that the union and the LCBO had settled a 2013 human rights complaint related to the wages of LCBO Customer Service Representatives. The information below answers the most common questions about the settlement.

Background

On November 1, 2016, negotiators for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union signed an historic agreement with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. As a result of this agreement, Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) working as casuals in LCBO stores and depots will be placed on a new wage grid. This new grid will allow them to reach the top pay rate earned by permanent part-time and permanent full-time CSRs.

At the moment, casual CSRs earn a top rate of $21.07 an hour; permanent CSRs earn $27.53 an hour. This settlement represents a huge victory for more than 4,000 casual CSRs.

Questions and Answers

Q1. Where did this settlement come from?

Ever since workers at the LCBO joined OPSEU in 2005, OPSEU has taken an interest in the pay grid for CSRs. In the 2009 round of bargaining, the union called on the LCBO to bring in “equal pay for equal work” language so that all workers performing the same work would be on the same pay grid. The LCBO refused. In the 2013 round of bargaining, the LCBO again refused to recognize that casual and permanent CSRs belonged on the same grid. In response, OPSEU filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The November 1, 2016 agreement between OPSEU and the LCBO settled that complaint.

Q2. What was the basis of the human rights complaint?

The complaint, which several casual CSRs signed on to and OPSEU carried forward, was that the pay structure for CSRs unfairly discriminated against workers in the female-dominated casual classification. The complaint argued that the pay structure for CSRs at the LCBO had been based in gender discrimination ever since the LCBO hired its first casuals many decades ago. This was a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code, the complaint said. The complaint named both the LCBO and the Government of Ontario, which owns the LCBO, as respondents.

Q3. Was the complaint settled by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO)?

No. OPSEU and the LCBO settled the complaint through negotiations. The negotiations arose out of a mediation process sponsored by the HRTO.

Q4. What is in the settlement?

The parties have agreed to several things:

  1. All CSRs – casual, permanent part-time, and permanent full-time – will be on the same pay grid.
  2. All the details of the new pay grid will be negotiated between OPSEU and the LCBO.
  3. If OPSEU and the LCBO cannot agree, all outstanding issues will be decided by arbitrator William Kaplan, and his decisions will be legally binding on both parties.
  4. No CSR will see his or her pay go down as a result of the settlement.

Q5. How many steps will be on the pay grid? How do CSRs move up the steps? How long will it take to reach the top? When will casual CSRs move on to the new grid? Will the changes to the pay grid be retroactive?

These are exactly the questions OPSEU and the LCBO will be negotiating about.

Q6. What are the union’s goals in these negotiations?

OPSEU aims to create a pay grid that allows ALL CSRs to get to the top pay rate in a reasonably short period of time. Another main goal is to create a more stable work environment for casuals to ensure that working hours are assigned in a way that respects their seniority so they can move up the pay grid in an orderly fashion.

Q7. When will the details be settled?

The parties have agreed to negotiate in early December of 2016 and January 24-27, 2017, if necessary. If there is no agreement by the end of January 27, the parties will make submissions to arbitrator William Kaplan shortly after. Once all submissions have been made, the arbitrator will issue a written decision within 14 days to settle all matters in dispute.

Q8. When will the new pay grid take effect?

The new grid will be part of the next collective agreement between OPSEU and the LCBO. The exact date that the pay grid changes take effect is still to be negotiated.

Q9. How will this affect collective bargaining towards the next contract between OPSEU and the LCBO?

All details of the human rights settlement will be settled before collective bargaining begins.

Q10. When is contract bargaining set to start?

The parties have agreed to set dates for bargaining soon. Both sides expect to hold negotiations in February, March, and April of 2017.

Q11. How does the settlement of the human rights case affect pay equity?

The current review of the LCBO’s pay equity plan will resume after the upcoming round of collective bargaining is completed.

Q12. What happens to the human rights complaint now?

The union has agreed to withdraw the complaint.

Q13. I still have questions about the human rights case. Is there someone I can contact?

OPSEU Supervisor Steve Nield has been overseeing the union’s work on the human rights case. If you still have questions, please contact Steve by email at [email protected] or call our hotline for LCBO members at 1-888-888-8888.

Publication Date: 

Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 11:45am