A better deal, or no deal
The leadership of the Liquor Board Employees Division (LBED) gathered on Friday with a clear message for LCBO management: we’re ready to do whatever it takes to get the better LCBO our members need.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, First Vice-President / Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, and other members of OPSEU’s Executive Board were present to tell members clearly that the union has their back in this fight.
“There are over 8,000 OPSEU members who work at the LCBO, but there are more than 130,000 members of OPSEU across Ontario,” Thomas said to the gathered delegates. “And I’m here to tell you that if your employer wants to pick a fight with the 8,000 of you, they’d better be ready to deal with all 130,000 of us.”
Almeida added that the LCBO’s refusal to provide better working conditions is particularly outrageous given the revenue that OPSEU members at the LCBO provide to the province every year.
“Your work provided more than $2 billion to the Ontario government last year,” said Almeida. “That money paid for hospitals and highways, schools and surgeries. You would think, after providing them with so much, the government would be grateful.
“Instead, we hear they’re asking for more, by asking LCBO management to find ways to squeeze further profits from the LCBO, no matter the cost to workers.”
Denise Davis, chair of the OPSEU bargaining team, thanked the assembled members for the incredible support the team had received, pointing out that in the last few weeks alone, members had already held more than 80 pickets in communities throughout the province.
“Management has tried from day one to divide us,” Davis said. “But from what I’ve seen as I’ve joined you on picket lines it’s been clear that they’ve failed. You’ve sent a message to this employer that we’re all in this together, that the working conditions we’re facing aren’t the only way things can be, and that we won’t stop until we get the fair deal we deserve.
“What management is trying to do to workers isn’t going to create a better LCBO, it’s going to create a meaner one. And that’s something we’re not going to stand for.”
Strike deadline set for June 26
The Ministry of Labour issued the “no board” report last Friday. This means that a strike deadline has been set for 12:01 a.m. on Monday, June 26. Your team will continue to push ahead with our proposals for a better LCBO ahead of that deadline.
Information pickets continued this past week, with communities across Ontario joining the push for a fair deal for workers, and a better LCBO for everyone. By the end of the fourth week, members had held 85 pickets, with dozens more planned for the next few weeks as we head towards the strike deadline.
You can find photos that were sent in by members at those pickets in the print copy of the bulletin, available at the bottom of this page. You can also find some media coverage of Week 4 pickets on the OPSEU website.
Don’t forget to grade your employer! Last chance to add your responses to our online survey
We’ve had great responses to our survey from OPSEU members at the LCBO. It seems like everyone has a lot to say about their employer and about management’s performance on four important categories – working conditions, workplace morale, safety in the workplace, and work-life balance.
We’ve extended the survey deadline by two days, but make sure you take a few minutes to answer the survey before June 14, then watch for an upcoming report card with LCBO senior management’s grades.
What you can say to customers
Some members are being asked by customers what the issues are in the current round of bargaining, and why there might be a strike on June 26. As that date gets closer, and the media coverage increases, the questions are likely to become more frequent. Here is a response you can provide to people asking what is happening:
- The union bargaining team is negotiating for a deal, not a strike. We are working to build a better LCBO, one that doesn’t leave workers trapped in part-time positions for decades, provides stable jobs, and continues to pay for important public services.
Health and safety reminder
We know the employer is increasing shipments ahead of the strike deadline. In their rush to make as much money as possible, they are in some cases putting the health and safety of workers and public at risk.
Please review the recent article on health and safety considerations around stock being placed in aisles. If you see anything you think is unsafe, raise the issue right away with management and your health and safety representative.
Week of Action for A Better LCBO, June 19 – 23
The bargaining team has called for a Week of Action in the days preceding the strike deadline, to build inside and outside pressure on the employer.
Inside our stores, we will show the employer that all members in retail, logistics and head office stand united for A Better LCBO. At the same time, we will continue to reach out to the public to build support for our cause.
The Week of Action has three components:
- A Better LCBO, Together sticker days.
- Sign me up for strike pay days.
- A Better LCBO barbecues.
For the A Better LCBO, Together sticker day, your local leadership or mobilizers will get stickers to you. We are asking that all members wear them on shift. Let’s show our unity! In the event that your manager directs you to take off the sticker, please comply. Then wear the stickers on your breaks and at union events. Want to be in a future bulletin? Take a photo with your co-workers wearing the stickers and send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the event of a strike or lockout, OPSEU members at the LCBO will receive strike pay from the union by direct deposit to their personal bank or credit union accounts. To receive strike pay, each member must complete the OPSEU Members Personal Information Form, better known as “Form B.” As well, everyone who receives strike pay needs to be a signed-up union member. This means that you have signed a union card.
During the “Sign me up for strike pay” days, your local leadership and mobilizers will be touring work locations to ensure members have completed and signed a Form B and have signed a union card.
Finally, where possible, we are asking locals to organize their own A Better LCBO barbecue and invite the public. We have been getting a lot of public support for our message of stable, decent work and a strong LCBO that isn’t being undercut by creeping privatization, and this is our chance to continue to build that support as the deadline approaches.
Beyond these three events, please take the time to volunteer to help your local. Your local is run by a core of committed leaders who are doing all they can to keep members informed and get things ready locally for a possible strike. However, there are a number of different tasks that need to be done in the days preceding the strike deadline.
Please offer your local whatever time you can spare in the coming days. Remember, the more members who get involved, the more we can spread the work, and the more we show the employer how serious we are about getting a fair contract.
From the chair: What’s the LCBO’s best contingency plan? Offering workers a fair deal.
It seems like nearly every quote from the LCBO in the media is about their contingency planning.
When we talk about the need for a better LCBO to ensure that workers get schedules that let them spend time with their families, they talk about their contingency plans for a strike. When we say that a Crown corporation with a 35 per cent profit margin can afford to keep workers safe by not having them work alone, they mention that they’re putting in place contingency plans.
And when we point out that a Premier who claims to want to improve lives for vulnerable workers could start with the workplaces her government runs, the LCBO once again responds that they have contingency plans in case there’s a strike.
If the LCBO put half as much energy into getting a deal as they seem to spend on contingencies for a strike, we’d already have our better LCBO.
While senior managers are focused on their contingency plans, we’re focused on getting a fair deal that will lead to the better LCBO we know is possible.
We’ve added bargaining dates this week on Tuesday and Wednesday, to give us time to get that deal. Every day, we’re continuing to push the employer to drop their proposals for making things worse – like the language that would let them contract out entire divisions, or the attempts to slash severance pay that workers have already earned – and instead work with us on making things better.
It’s not that complicated. We just think that a company with a $2 billion profit last year can afford to provide people with stable jobs, predictable schedules, and decent working conditions. And while they may not want to admit it, I’m pretty sure even the management bargaining team knows it’s possible.
Our bargaining team has a plan to do that, but what happens next is really up to the LCBO. Will they continue to play with their contingency plans, or will we get down to negotiating and, together, build the better LCBO we know is possible?
Chair, LBED bargaining team
Challenge period for wage grid implementation ends June 18
The union is aware that not all wage grid calculations were done correctly, and we are continuing to work with the employer to try to resolve disagreements over these calculations.
Members who think that they have been placed incorrectly on the new single wage grid must file a formal challenge of their placement using the grid placement challenge form by Sunday, June 18.
Meet your mobilizers!
In collective bargaining, power comes from the support of union members. Experience has shown that employers move at the bargaining table when members take action inside and outside the workplace. To help build that power, OPSEU has booked off 15 mobilizers, elected by LBED members at your Pre-Bargaining Conference in April 2016. These mobilizers, who are your co-workers at the LCBO, are on union leave, starting Monday, February 27. They will work to build support for your elected bargaining team and the bargaining priorities you selected during demand-setting.
Meet your bargaining team
The OPSEU bargaining team for the Liquor Board Employees Division consists of five members:
Denise Davis, Chair, Local 378
Colleen MacLeod, Vice-Chair, Local 5107
Jennifer Van Zetten, Local 162
Robin Reath, Local 163
Mark Larocque, Local 499
The bargaining team is assisted by OPSEU Negotiator Jeff Weston, Researcher Steve Crossman, and other assigned staff.
Contact us by email at LBEDbargaining@opseu.org
You can receive this bargaining bulletin (and our regular newsletter, the Echo) directly by e-mail. Just call OPSEU at 1-800-268-7376 or (416) 443-8888, and give the operator your name and e-mail address.
You can also watch for updates on the OPSEU website at www.opseu.org/LBEDbargaining. And be sure to attend upcoming bargaining information meetings in your area.