Unionized LCBO workers are prepared to put “boots to the ground” in their campaign to block the Liberal government from expanding the availability of beer and wine to 300 private grocery stores across the province.
“We’re geared up and ready to fight back,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union which represents more than 7,000 LCBO employees in warehouses, retail locations and head office. “If Kathleen Wynne thinks this is going to be a cakewalk down the aisle of privatized beer and wine she ought to think again.”
Thomas made the comments at the end of three telephone-town halls, organized last week by the union, during which LCBO employees expressed their deep concern over the government’s plan. Members are determined to beat back the plan which many experts have questioned on grounds that the greater the availability of alcohol the greater the health care and social impact costs associated with its abuse.
More than 3,800 LCBO employees participated in the three telephone-town halls, representing more than 50 per cent of the Crown corporation’s unionized workforce.
Thomas said the Wynne government has enjoyed a wide open playing field by leaking its proposal through media outlets. They plan to increase the number of outlets able to sell alcohol products by 20 per cent over the current 1,500 locations. But Thomas predicted that will change.
“Public interest groups will be demanding a thorough public consultation process before this scheme is implemented,” said Thomas. “And when the public finally gets to hear what health care advocates, anti-drunk driving groups, social support advocates and criminal justice groups have to say, there will be a considerable drop in support.”
Warren (Smokey) Thomas