What we're looking for in our new contract
Message from the Bargaining Team
As more and more LBED members begin to follow our contract negotiations, a common question is coming up: What sort of improvements are we looking for from the LCBO in our new collective agreement?
"It's a very legitimate question," said Denise Davis, chair of the 7-member bargaining team. ""Our mandate as a bargaining team is to work hard at the table and to communicate to our members on contract developments."
In short, based on the demands submitted by LBED members, the bargaining team is looking to make improvements over the last contract we negotiated in 2009 in area wages and benefits, job security and health and safety.
Regrettably, the LCBO negotiating team is doing its best to roll back the gains LBED members made four years ago. Regardless of classification they want us to take a four-year wage freeze — which really amounts to an eight per cent wage cut when inflation is taken into account. That's just the start. Among several dozen concessions, the LCBO wants to impose a freeze on wage progression; it wants to promote employees based on 'merit' [read: favouritism]; it wants to eliminate 270 assistant managers positions, plus it seeks to "review" our benefits package "to maximize returns to the people of Ontario."
We're not having any of it.
Here is a sample of the demands that your bargaining team has tabled, based on the demand-setting surveys you completed last year:
Improvements to Permanent Vacancy Review (PVR) of casual employees to full-time or permanent part-time status;
Benefit improvements for casuals, seasonals and permanent part-time employees;
Improve contract language on shift schedules and call back for casuals, seasonals and permanent part-time employees;
A general wage increase;
Reduce stressors, including work overload;
Set minimum staffing complement, and eliminate working alone in retail outlets;
More rules and fairness when it comes to scheduling shifts, including the elimination of the overlapping shift clause;
Introduce compressed work week;
End divestment, privatization and contracting out of services through agency stores and other means;
End the practice of supervisors performing bargaining unit work;
Improve and increase the amount of vision care coverage, including eye exams and laser surgery;
Improvements to vacation entitlements.
"We believe these are entirely reasonable demands and affordable for the LCBO," said Davis. "We must never lose sight of the fact that in its last fiscal year the LCBO collected more than $4.3 billion in revenue and returned more than $2.2 billion in dividends and taxes to the provincial treasury. The per-employee profit at the LCBO last year was more than $200,000. Let's be clear: the LCBO can afford our modest contract demands."
Casuals falling behind in landing permanent jobs at LCBO
The numbers never mislead — especially when it comes to casual and seasonal employees looking for full-time permanent work at the LCBO.
While the LCBO continues to earn record financial returns year-over-year, the facts show that much of those earnings are courtesy of casual and seasonal workers who often put in five, 10, 15 or more years in part-time work before getting a chance at a permanent, full-time position. Some employees prefer casual employment, but on the frontlines of LCBO operations many more LBED members say they want to land full-time work, with the accompanying benefits, than languish for years in precarious employment.
As the accompanying chart illustrates, between April 2008 and Sept. 2012, the number of casuals has increased by 38 per cent, while the number of full-time permanent positions has inched ahead by a measly 6 per cent.
"These numbers tell the real story," said Julian Benson, a member of the bargaining team and a customer service rep in Toronto. "I've been with the LCBO four years and, frankly, I see little hope of landing a full-time job for at least another decade."
Revved up and ready to roar!
Close to 50 LBED local presidents, highest-ranking officers, mobilizers and OPSEU staff met Mar. 6-7 for two intensive days of meetings and workshops to prepare and inform members of our contract negotiations with the LCBO.
"The two days were invaluable in respect to getting our local presidents prepared for what's happening at the bargaining table and to help shape the next steps in what we can do in our workplaces to inform the members of the issues that are at stake," said Nick Foti, president of local 5109 and a member of the LBED bargaining team.
"I learned plenty and I'm certain others did, too."
Those in attendance heard from Randy Robinson, OPSEU's political economist, who laid out the current political and economic climate Ontario faces as liquor board employees negotiate their next contract. He told the gathering that the LCBO is well positioned to meet LBED's contract demands in light of the Crown corporation's very healthy financial status.
"This is a public agency that returns more than $2.2 billion dollars to the people of Ontario each and every year," said Robinson. "What we are asking of the LCBO at the bargaining table is very modest indeed."
Greg Hamara, an OPSEU communications officer, led the LBED leadership through a half day of communications and media relations training with an eye focused on what local leaders might expect from their hometown media as contract negotiations continue.
"I was very impressed by the media literacy displayed by our local presidents," said Hamara. "I think we are very prepared to meet head-on the questions we can expect from the media as bargaining progresses."
Those in attendance also heard from Luisa Quarta, an OPSEU campaigns officers, who explained the importance of preparing members for all outcomes during contract negotiations.
"The key element is keeping our members informed of what's at stake for them," said Quarta, who is responsible for coordinating the activities of LBED's nine mobilizers in the field across Ontario. "Our focus is on engaging members in pulling together behind their bargaining team so that the employer knows they're dealing with a unified and informed membership of 7,000 liquor board employees."
The two days of training appear to have paid off.
"This was a great opportunity for the entire team of presidents, mobilizers and staff to pull together as one to show the LCBO our solidarity as the bargaining goes on," said Maria Bauer, president of OPSEU local 376.
The bargaining team wants to remind all members to wear their "Our Community Needs Good Jobs" button in the workplace. There are no restrictions on wearing the buttons in the workplace. LCBO management has authorized the buttons and knows our members will be wearing them.
Thousands of buttons have been distributed to LBED members across the province and more sticker buttons are being produced. They will be in the hands of our mobilizers shortly.
Wear your button with pride! It's our way of telling the public that good jobs matter and they start with employees of the LCBO.
Casual of the week: Julian Benson
Send us your photos!
As bargaining and mobilization picks up steam in the days and weeks ahead all LBED members will want to share in the activities taking place in other locals across the province. A great way of capturing these actions is through photography.
Send us your best photos, in high resolution, and we"ll be certain to publish as many as possible in future editions of the LBED Bargaining Bulletin.
Send your photos to OPSEU graphic design artist Jason Alward at
Your 2013 bargaining team
Denise Davis, Chair
Local 378 — Durham Warehouse email@example.com
Tracy Vyfschaft, Vice Chair
Local 377 —Ajax/Pickering/Oshawa/Whitby firstname.lastname@example.org
Local 5108 — North York/Thornhill/Unionville/Markham email@example.com
Local 5109 — Toronto Head Office and Warehouse firstname.lastname@example.org
Local 5107 — Mississauga/Etobicoke/Brampton/Toronto email@example.com
Local 378 — Durham Warehouse firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenn Van Zetten
Local 162 — Chatham/Windsor email@example.com
Local 499 C: (613) 762-3013 firstname.lastname@example.org