Echo 51 December 2014
Publication DateFriday, December 19, 2014 - 2:15pm
Read Message from the Chair; join the human rights complaint; tell your story as a casual; info on sick credit pool and much more...
Message from the Chair
April 2015 may seem like a long way off but when it comes to the fight for equal pay for work of equal value it may as well be tomorrow.
That’s because equality in the workplace is a never ending struggle. And it’s one we know only too well working for the LCBO.
April 14, 2015 is Equal Pay Day across Canada. It’s an annual event that draws attention to the fact that for millions of workers across our country there is no such right in their workplaces.
This unequal treatment is a form of discrimination. It violates the Ontario Human Rights Code.
That’s why more than 1,400 members of the Liquor Board Employees Division of OPSEU, mostly women, have signed on to the union’s application before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal that challenges the LCBO’s practice of paying employees different wages even though they are performing the exact same work.
Wage disparity is not the only form of discrimination that the LCBO uses against its own employees. There are other ways. At the LCBO retail casuals (the largest female dominated group) have inferior benefits compared to male-dominated groups doing the exact same work.
Women have less job security and weaker guarantees of hours of work. It takes women at the LCBO longer to reach the top of their pay grid.
Our preliminary hearing before the human rights tribunal is scheduled for February. We go to full hearings next July.
On a brighter note, on behalf of your liquor board employees divisional executive I wish to extend the merriest of holiday greetings to all our members and their families. Please ensure that your holiday season is a safe and restful one, too. Never lose sight of the fact that it is the LCBO’s own employees that make the corporation the business success story that it is. We have much to be proud of and together we can help build an even better workplace for all of us!
Join the human rights complaint today; tell your story as an LCBO casual
Our application before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal charging the LCBO with unfair wage practices needs more liquor board employees to sign on. So far more than 1,400 have done so but we want to grow that number. If you are a casual and you haven’t signed a consent form to support our application please do so today. It’s easy! Simply contact OPSEU staff supervisor Steve Nield at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 1-800-268-7376.
We are also looking for first person testimonials about your experience as a casual at the LCBO. Tell us how long you have been a casual; have you been affected by shortened work hours; have you faced a lack of opportunities; how many days or hours do you work each week to make a decent living. Send your stories – or any questions you might have – to OPSEU staff supervisor Steve Nield at email@example.com More than 3,000 casuals currently work at the LCBO and we need to collect as many stories as possible to strengthen our case before the human rights tribunal. The information we collect may be entered as evidence but it will not be used without your prior consent.
Casual pay in Lieu: Get out and file!
The union believes the LCBO is incorrectly calculating the pay in lieu of holidays, benefits and vacation. Our union, OPSEU, has filed a policy grievance on the issue but is advising all casuals to file an individual grievance on the issue in order to assure any retroactive pay.
Local presidents should contact their casual members and have them file a grievance stating that the pay in lieu of holiday, benefits and vacation has been calculated incorrectly and that they seek all lost monies plus interest.
When filing the Stage 2 written grievance, the statement of grievance should read:
I grieve that the employer has failed to properly calculate pay in lieu of holidays, benefits and vacations based on the gross pay in violation of articles 32.2(b) and (c), as well as any other articles, laws, legal principles that may apply.
The remedy should read:
Repayment of all lost monies with full retroactivity and interest. Anything else required to be made whole.
Now, get out and file!!
Casual scheduling and previous case law
The scheduling of casual employees seems to be a mystery for everyone. Why are casuals – from new hires to senior classifications – all getting four and five hour shifts? How does the LCBO get away with it?
Here are a couple of previous case laws that have set a precedence for the current scheduling practices for casuals. These two grievances refer to article 31.7 (currently article 32.6) that states: “Casual hours of work shall be allocated according to the casual employees seniority assigned to the applicable work or department”.
Case 1- Kruczaj, #1993-1359
The griever was a casual employee who had another job elsewhere. His availability sheet stated that he was available for some hours on certain days. The employer was scheduling a junior casual from 12 to 8 pm. The griever was available for some of the hours but not all. The union argued that the griever should be scheduled all the hours the griever is available and the rest of the hours should be scheduled to the junior casual. The union referred to article 31.7 “hours of work shall be given in order of seniority” (currently article 32.6)
The arbitrator looked at the employer’s past practice of making blocks of time and distributing the blocks in order of seniority. The arbitrator stated the language is ambiguous and cannot be interpreted the way the union had suggested. The union suggested that the article refers to “hours of work” and not “shifts”. The arbitrator stated that “it would lead to absurd results of the employer having to schedule each employee every hour they are available as long as it was not less than two hours.”
Case 2 – Goncalves, #1990-0134
On certain days, the griever worked from 12 pm to 5 pm., and at least one casual with less seniority worked from 4 pm to 9 pm. According to availability sheets completed by the griever, he was available to work from 12 to 9 pm. The union contends he should have been scheduled for this entire interval by virtue of his seniority.
As determined in the Kruczaj decision previously, the collective agreement does not fetter the employer’s power to fix start and finish time of the shifts to be allocated. Article 31.7 (now 32.7) comes into play only after the shifts have been established by the employer. The griever only has a seniority claim after the shifts have been established. The arbitrator also ruled that the griever cannot provide the service of two people for the overlap from 4 to 5 pm.
The decisions above have allowed the employer to decide the shifts as well as to distribute the shifts in order of seniority rather than hours of work. The employer must still follow the rules of other articles in 32 when scheduling casual employees, but it has the right to determine the shifts and assign them in order of seniority. Please remember that this applies to scheduled shifts, not allocation of additional hours after the schedule has been posted. Assigning work after the schedule has been posted falls under other articles in our collective agreement.
If you think the scheduling practices in your store are not correct, ask your local steward or send in the question to “Ask the Editor.” (firstname.lastname@example.org) It’s time again we challenge the employer on their current practices as some things have changed since these rulings took place.
More detailed information on these cases can be found at
Member, Education and Communication Committee
LBED sick credit pool Information & application
General Information and Guidelines
As a full time or seasonal member of OPSEU’s Liquor Board Employees Division, you may be eligible for the sick credit pool if:
- You have used all other credits, both attendance/sick and vacation; AND
- Have available sick credits in the pool.
Note: If you are on a leave longer than three weeks you must have exhausted your Employment Insurance entitlement.
To apply, you need to complete the attached application and provide supporting documentation. The following must be submitted:
- The application form;
- Authorization form allowing LCBO to disclose personal attendance information to OPSEU;
- A statement from your doctor. This statement need not have your diagnosis; rather it is a statement that you are under the care of a doctor for a medical condition and the date your doctor anticipates you will be returning to work;
- A completed statement promising to pay back the sick credit pool when you return to work;
- Applicants may be required to submit further medical certificates and/or other data or releases required for review purposes.
Please review the application information and complete the application form in full. Return to the application, authorization/release form AND your doctor's statement to the sick credit pool coordinator.
Once your application has been processed and approved, the sick credit pool coordinator will notify the LCBO to make payment. LCBO will make payment via direct deposit and will be made on the next pay date that is open for processing. Please note that due to LBCO processing timelines, you will receive the advance usually 2-4 weeks after the approval is submitted to LCBO for payment. In addition, the sick credit pool coordinator at OPSEU will send you an email (where available) advising of the approval. If email is not available, a letter will be sent to your home.
If your application is not approved or if more information is required you will be contacted.
Once you have returned to work, you will be required to repay the advanced amount. Repayment is made by deducting 5 days of your attendance credits per year until the full amount is repaid. For example, if you are normally awarded 15 attendance credits per year, while re-paying the sick credit pool, 5 will be directed toward the pool and the 10 remaining days will be available to you for use.
Summary of Rules
Leave of less than 3 weeks:
- Must use all attendance and vacation credits first.
- If more days are needed before returning to work, the Sick Credit Pool can grant the number of days needed to a maximum of ten (10) days.
Leave greater than three weeks:
- Must use all attendance and vacation credits first.
- Must have exhausted Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.
- Once EI is exhausted (15 weeks) and if you still require more days before you are eligible for Long Term disability (LTIP), then the Sick Credit Pool can grant the number of days needed to a maximum of thirty-five (35) days total.
To be eligible you must be a bargaining unit member who full-time or seasonal employee entitled to attendance credits and have completed your probationary period. This includes seasonal workers who have attained 12 months of accumulated service
A member cannot borrow any more than 35 days total. For example, if you previously had been granted 35 days and had paid back 10 days to the pool, only 10 days will be available to be borrowed.
All other benefits including attendance and vacation credits must first be used. NOTE: For those who are off for three weeks or more you must first apply for and collect Employment Insurance (EI). Normally, there is a two week waiting period for Employment Insurance where you will not be paid, however, this waiting period can be waived if you have received sick leave pay; please inquire with the Employment Insurance office to see if this might be an option for you.
Applications can be submitted prior to the termination of all other credits but consideration will also be given to applications submitted after one returns to work.
Disqualification can result from a frivolous use of the sick credits or false statements on the application.
Credits from the pool cannot be advanced under the following circumstances:
- Disciplinary action (i.e. suspension without pay)
- Illness recovery programs, modified schedules due to work accommodation and/or work hardening programs.
The contribution of one (1) day by each new employee within the bargaining unit will take place one month after their appointment date.
NOTE: ANY FALSE STATEMENTS AUTOMATICALLY DISQUALIFIES YOUR APPLICATION FROM CONSIDERATION.
Coordinator Contact Information
Cheri Hearty, OPSEU Benefits Counsellor
Sick Credit Pool Coordinator
Pension & Benefits Department
Please forward your application to one of the following:
For questions regarding the Sick Credit Pool, please contact Cheri Hearty via email at email@example.com or by calling the OPSEU Resource Centre at 416-443-8888416-443-8888 or 1-800-268-73761-800-268-7376.
Download the application:
Happy Holidays? Not for LCBO casuals.
For most people the holiday season means putting up lights, decorating trees and spending quality time with family and friends. For LCBO casuals, the holiday season typically means working more days but with shorter shifts as ‘fixed term’ employees flood through our stores across the province.
The employer has engaged in a disturbing new trend that utilizes creative scheduling to strategically reduce casual shifts from eight hours to six, five or even four hours. They’re doing this by overlapping shifts and exploiting loop holes in our collective agreement in an effort to skirt the permanent vacancy review (PVR) process. Despite adding more retail stores this practice is costing members full-time jobs and puts the almighty dollar before the welfare of the LCBO’s own employees.
Some of our members believe casual shift reductions are in retaliation for the OPSEU’s complaint before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal which was launched during the last round of bargaining in 2013. Others believe the employer has adopted Walmart style scheduling to maximize profit while deterring senior casual employees from wanting to stay long term with the LCBO. Whatever the reason, the employer’s practice is fueling employee discontent and low morale all of which adds to the plague of precarious work that weakens Ontario’s economy.
Last month the communications committee asked our casual members how shrinking shifts have impacted their lives and the response was overwhelming. Read the personal accounts from our members (Names have changed to protect our members from employer reprisal).
William – 3 years casual – Resigned. “I used to enjoy 30+ hours a week until I was transferred to another store. My new store only needed me on load days which roughly translated to two, four-hour a shifts a week. After years of service the transfer felt like a kick in the teeth because I couldn’t live off of eight hours a week. After many years of providing excellent customer service, I resigned. This is no way to treat people.”
Julie – Causal 3.5 years – Resigned. “My store was one of the pioneers of the five-hour shift. Previously, I was often scheduled 10-to-3 on week days and another 12-15 hours on the weekend. When the new scheduling came out my hours dropped to 10 a week. My single mother income was decimated, my savings depleted. The employer’s total lack of empathy forced me to resign and seek employment elsewhere. I have worked for faceless corporations before, but with the LCBO I have never felt as unvalued as a person, employee, and mother in my life. Good riddance LCB!.”
Greg – Casual 7 years. “I live in fear every day that my hours will be cut and I will not be able to pay my bills. I have to work six days a week to earn a enough hours to live on. I feel as a casual we’re treated like a different species all together.”
Sara – FT-Product Consultant. “The major cuts in my store have greatly reduced customer service as I’m often in the back doing loads instead of tending to the vintage section. I work in a high volume store and it’s not uncommon to have two people on cash during our busiest time. Sometimes I think the LCBO wants to anger our customers.”
Stephanie – Casual 15 years. “My shifts have declined majorly since I was transferred to a different store. I used to enjoy 30+ hours a week because of longer shifts. These days, I have to work seven days a week to even come close to hitting 30 hours. If I factor in travel time and gas, I make less than minimum wage. After more than 15 years with the LCBO I’d have thought the employer would give me a little respect. I used to love my job, but the employer is breaking me down. I have to pull myself together sometimes and not allow the employer’s’ chaos to get the better of me.“
Mindy – 9 years casual – “I work six days a week, five hours a day. I’m top casual in my store…for now. I feel a transfer coming on because I’m getting up there in seniority. My production has gone down because of the way they treat me, and I’ve lost any sense of pride I had in my work. This company gets what they deserve from the way they treat its staff.”
John - 7 years casual. “Shifts used to be 7.5 hours. Now they’re five or sometimes four. (The employer) finds new ways to give me less hours the longer I stay with the company.”
Barbara – 9 years casual. “My shifts have been cut from 7.5 hours to five hours down to four hours. It’s hard when they reduce shift times because its means less money on pay day. I have to work seven days a week just to get decent hours. It’s draining and causes me a lot of stress and anxiety. It’s challenging to remain positive while at work”
Those are just a small handful of the thousands of stories out there in LCBO retail land. Our casual members are hurting and our full-timers are struggling with increased workloads. During this holiday season work within your limits, try to remain positive when interacting with customers and start thinking about what changes you’d like to see in the next collective agreement.
Happy Holidays Brothers and Sisters!
The holiday season rush is in full swing and the provincial health and safety committee would like to remind you to work safe and within your means. It’s easy to get swept up in the high-paced environment of the LCBO. But that pace can lead to preventable injuries in the workplace.
Here are some quick reminders to help you keep healthy and safe over this holiday season:
- Make sure retail and warehouse floors are clear of debris.
- Work within your physical limit; your health is a priority, not the LCBO’s bottom line.
- If an incident occurs, ensure that an incident report has been completed.
- Health and safety reps need to ensure they have adequate time to complete inspections.
- Do not stack cases of stock over a safe limit.
- Ensure there are clear pathways in storage area.
- When doing carry-outs, always wear a reflective coat or vest and exercise caution on ice or snow.
- Make sure the displays on the sales floor are safe.
- Be careful when handling broken glass from breakers
- Ensure that in the event of a breaker, that “wet floor signs” are put in place.
Remember to work smart, work safe and have a little bit of fun.
On behalf of the provincial health and safety committee, have a Happy Holiday!