Liquor Board Employees Division: the ECHO – April 2023

OPSEU Liquor Board Employees Division - SEFPO Division des employes de la regie des alcools

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Chair’s Message

Colleen MacLeod – Chair, Liquor Board Employees Division


Traditionally, springtime is a busy time of year for activists and this year is no exception.

OPSEU/SEFPO Convention is around the corner, and I’m looking forward to getting together in person once again. As a reminder, our sector will be holding our caucus on Thursday, April 20th at noon. I hope to see all Liquor Board Employee Division (LBED) members at Convention in attendance.

Under the previous round of bargaining (April 1, 2021 – March 31, 2024) we negotiated re-opener language to discuss compensation articles, should Bill 124 be repealed or struck down. Since it is now “void and of no effect” the bargaining team has met with the Employer to mediate the compensation articles. The bargaining team is committed to the process with assistance by Gerry Lee, Mediation Officer. No further dates have been scheduled at this time. Stay connected with your local leadership and the OPSEU/SEFPO website for further updates on Bill 124 negotiations.

The Pay Equity committee is also hoping to finalize our Pay Equity negotiations with the Employer before the expiry of our current contract. We’re optimistic that with Gerry Lee’s assistance we’ll reach our goal.

Believe it or not we’re back in bargaining mode — and that means it’s time to complete the pre-bargaining survey!

The bargaining survey was sent to all LBED Local Presidents and distributed by OPSEU/SEFPO to every LBED member whose email address we have. The survey is online, and we also provided a printable hard copy to Local Presidents if you require one. If you did not receive the bargaining survey to your email, please reach out to OPSEU/SEFPO to update your contact information.

As your sector Chair, I can’t stress how important it is for all of us to complete the bargaining survey. The results of the survey act as a roadmap for the bargaining team and provide a direct channel to have your voice heard. The survey results will be presented on April 29th at our Pre-Bargaining Conference where Delegates will elect our next bargaining team and provincial mobilizers. I would like to encourage all those interested in either opportunity to put their name forward. Most importantly, I wish everyone who offers to stand for election the best of luck!

We have started to prepare for the Broader Public Sector Conference (BPS) this fall by reviewing our Bylaws and Negotiating procedures. Locals will be receiving an instruction package later in the year that shows how to submit motions to amend any of these procedures. The Conference will also determine LBED’s new leadership as Delegates will be electing our Divisional Executive and Committee members.

OPSEU/SEFPO is undergoing a major transformation. At the last Convention we sent a clear message to our OPSEU/SEFPO leadership and demanded change. Transformation and change are not quick or easy. There are always obstacles in our path that we must overcome to enable that change. Your executive has gracefully handled these obstacles and continued to advocate on your behalf.

I would like to humbly give thanks to our dedicated divisional executive, local executive members, and to all our Liquor Board Employees Division committee members for their hard work and determination representing our members. Your commitment, and most importantly, your patience is always appreciated and respected.

Provincial Health and Safety Report

Debbie McGuiness – Chair, Provincial Health and Safety Committee

The Provincial Health and Safety Committee continues to address mental health strategies related to workplace challenges. This has involved sharing examples of distressing events that have impacted our members this past year with the employer and learning from them. We were pleased with the huddles that have been rolled out on mental health.

Regarding the impact of violence in the workplace on mental health, the LCBO has taken the steps to introduce a Cumulative Stress Management Program. This group counselling program involves two sessions: decompression and self-care resiliency building. The initial feedback from the pilot was overwhelmingly positive. There is a plan in place to expand this offering to other high-risk locations that may witness violent incidents in their workplace.

Additionally, there has been increased access to supports and resources, including guidance and mechanisms for management to handle the difficult situations that may occur throughout the working day. Furthermore, there will be new posters advertising EFAP (Employee and Family Assistance Program), which will have QR codes on them to allow for improved access to this service for all members.

We received a considerable amount of positive feedback regarding the Zoom meeting that we hosted on January 29th on the topic of mental health. It was a great success, with many members participating, sharing their experiences, and supporting each other.

One of the many goals of our committee is to foster a positive and inclusive culture in the workplace environment that encourages members to focus on supporting each other with compassion and empathy. We look to continue our discussions on this important subject in the hope that we, as a community, can remove the stigmas associated with mental and psychological health in the workplace altogether.

The Committee continues to recognize the important role that our Health and Safety Representatives and Committees have in continuing to promote an inclusive and healthy workplace environment.

Grievance Committee Update

Jeremy Trainor – Chair, Grievance Committee

The Committee has reviewed 68 grievances so far this year: 10 (15%) were recommended for arbitration, 28 (41%) were recommended for mediation/arbitration, 20 (29%) were put on hold seeking more information, and 10 (15%) were recommended withdrawn.

The reason for the higher-than-normal withdrawal rate was due to the grievances regarding letters of counselling. Grievances dealing with letters of counselling are not won at arbitration, as they are not discipline.

Last November, the Grievance Committee held a Zoom information session that focused on grievance handling best practices. The event was well attended, and the committee is looking forward to future Zoom events.

Several issues were raised, and the Grievance Committee has actively addressed them and is collaborating with OPSEU/SEFPO on solutions for LBED members.

Bargaining a great contract starts with you

Craig Hadley – Chair, Education and Communication

Whether you realize it or not, your Collective Agreement is one of the most important documents in your life. It spells out how much you’re paid, what shift premiums you’re entitled to, the grievance process, and it covers just about every aspect of your work life.

The length of the agreement is determined by both parties but typically spans 3-4 years in length. In the simplest terms, collective bargaining starts with the exchange of proposals. The employer comes to the table with changes they feel are necessary to reflect market changes and business needs, and your bargaining team aims to improve workplace entitlements and working conditions from the results of the member demand set survey.

This is why completing the bargaining survey is important – it’s your opportunity to have your voice heard and to take part in the bargaining process. Equally important to completing the demand set survey is the election of your bargaining team and mobilizers.

The first step in getting involved in the bargaining process is attending a local General Membership Meeting.

At this meeting, members like you have the opportunity to run to be a delegate at the Pre-Bargaining Conference. If you’re elected to be a delegate, you’ll automatically be a delegate at the Final Demand set meeting held later this year.  The number of delegate positions per local is outlined in OPSEU/SEFPO’s Constitution under article 13.4.

If you’re elected to be a delegate to the Pre-Bargaining Conference you will be representing your local, and as such, would have the opportunity to run for a seat on the bargaining team or as a regional mobilizer. Any LBED member in good standing from a local may stand for election, regardless of whether or not they are a delegate to the meeting – provided there is a nomination received in writing. The nomination must be signed and dated by both the Nominator and the Nominee and in the hands of the person chairing the meeting prior to the election taking place. Nominations may also be made from the floor. A Nominee who is ineligible/unable to attend the meeting shall remain eligible to be a candidate provided that he or she or they follow the nomination procedure above.

The bargaining team consists of five elected members. One of these positions is automatically filled by the Chair of the Division. Of the remaining four, one position is earmarked for a bargaining unit member from a logistics facility.

After the nomination process, each member that decides to stand for election has an opportunity to give a speech as to why the delegates should vote for them.  Each position must be elected by a majority of 50% +1 to win the position. If the positions are not filled on the first ballot, the person with the lowest amount of votes is dropped from the ballot and the delegates vote again until the team is elected.

The election of mobilizers follows the same election process of 50%+1 but are elected regionally. Simply put, after the election of the bargaining team each of our seven regions break off into their own room where they elect a mobilizer and three alternates. The role of the mobilizer is to keep members informed throughout the bargaining process and to assist locals with organizing their members.

A common misconception held among OPSEU/SEFPO members is that the bargaining team squares off against the employers’ bargaining team without resources or guidance. However, this is a falsehood. The team is comprised of elected members who follow the demands set by the membership survey to negotiate for what the members want. They are also assisted by OPSEU/SEFPO staff, including a negotiator, campaigns officer, communications officer, research officer, and, if needed, OPSEU/SEFPO legal. More information on the election process can be found in our Divisional Negotiating procedures.

LCBO: Liquor belongs here

Jamie Kensley – Chair, Anti-Privatization Committee

Early in March, the LBED Anti-Privatization Committee and the LBED Divisional Executive held an LBED Leadership Day for local leaders from across the province.

The purpose of the meeting was to update, inform and engage our members. The Ontario government is aggressively pursuing privatization of public services in many areas, and the expansion of alcohol retailing is one of those areas. Guest speakers were invited to discuss privatization and the sale of alcohol policy in Ontario.

First, we heard from Bob Stadnichuk, member of the Saskatchewan Government Employees Union (SGEU) Anti-Privatization Committee. For over a decade, Bob has been active in SGEU anti-privatization campaigns, including coordinating public liquor stores’ fight against privatization in 2016 and helping lead the recent Save Our Stores (SOS) campaign to stop sell-offs. Last fall, the Saskatchewan government announced it was exiting the retail liquor market and by the end of March 2023, the last stores were sold off.

Bob painted a grim picture: a Crown corporation that had been in existence for nearly 70 years was dismantled in less than seven years, leaving members devastated and losing their jobs.

He urged us to not become complacent in our fight. He suggested that any strategy moving forward requires ‘people’. Members need to be active and involved. He reminded us that community engagement is necessary. Bob’s final words: “power comes from organizing.”

Next, we heard from Randy Robinson, Ontario Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Canada’s leading progressive think tank. Randy honed his communications and research skills in various roles with OPSEU/SEFPO over more than two decades, serving as a communications officer, political economist, and communications supervisor.

Randy spelled out the writing on the wall: the government wants to see thousands more outlets selling beer and wine; is willing to lose money to help businesses sell more alcohol; and will do whatever is needed to license convenience stores, grocery stores, and possibly other outlets to sell beer and wine as soon as possible.

Both presentations were informative – and alarming.

From the beginning, the Ford government promised more convenience – authorizing 200 new LCBO Convenience Outlets (previously the Agency Store Program), rewriting liquor laws and regulations, and meeting with a top executive of 7-Eleven to discuss the sale of beer and wine in convenience stores.

Health allies across the province have advocated against increased accessibility. Dr. Samantha Wells, Senior Director and Senior Scientist for the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) says that “from a health perspective, our alcohol policy is going in the wrong direction.”

So how do we change directions? Together!

The LBED Anti-Privatization Committee and the LBED Divisional Executive will be launching a campaign this summer. We will be at the OPSEU/SEFPO Annual Convention in April. We invite all attendees to visit our information table and sign up for action. Additionally, we will also be hosting two virtual educational sessions for all members starting in June, prior to launching our first Day of Action in July.

Together, we will build alliances. Together, we will remind Ontarians that the LCBO belongs to us – the people of Ontario – and that the LCBO keeps our kids and communities safe.

This summer, let us remind everyone why liquor sales belong in public hands.

We can win this fight.

Pensions and Benefits Committee Update: LTIP Appeal Process Reminder

Shelly Robitaille – Chair, Benefits and Pensions Committee

“New” Change in LTIP Appeal Process

The LCBO’s Long Term Income Protection Plan (LTIP) provider, Manulife, has changed the disability appeals process. The changes took effect August 25, 2022 and have the following three areas of focus:

  • Improved Communication: Manulife will provide simple, clear and specific instructions. Plain language will be relied upon, and suggested information that can be submitted for the appeal will be highlighted.
  • Streamlined Process: To ensure timeliness with the appeal process, two levels of appeal will occur within six months of the original claim decision (instead of multiple levels, which takes months to progress through).
  • Available Supportive Resources: The Case Manager can assist employees throughout the process, addressing any questions about the claim decisions and the appeal process. When new information is received for an appeal, the Case Manager can overturn and approve the claim. Otherwise, Appeals Specialists will be involved to review the entire file to make an appeal decision.

Request for Union Leave Process (RUL) Modernized

Rachel Brunet, Secretary/Treasurer

In early 2022, OPSEU/SEFPO and the LCBO worked together to introduce a more efficient process for submitting time off for union leave. The new process uses an online form that eliminates unnecessary duplication and reduces the confusion associated with applying for union time off.

The digital form leverages both the union’s and the employers’ databases allowing the user to choose their options through a dropdown menu. Once the form is submitted, all the parties involved in the approval process automatically receive an email notification alerting them to complete the part of the form for which they are responsible. This eliminates approvals going to the wrong people and translates into a much more user-friendly experience for our members. Let’s face it, union work should be spent on union work, not chasing down mislaid paperwork sent to the wrong District Manager.

After an eight-month pilot project involving a test group of local presidents, the long-awaited release of the digital RUL process was nearing. Divisional Chair, Colleen MacLeod hosted dozens of online orientation sessions to familiarize our local leadership with the ease of the new process.

In January of this year, the new online process went live to the membership.

I’m proud to announce the feedback from members has been positive and any issues that have arisen have been addressed and corrected, with the exception of a late add-on request from the employer.

Unbeknownst to the union, the employer added an additional step to the RUL process requiring the member to submit a copy of the approved RUL form into Workday under the request field. This came as a surprise to your union, as there was no mention of this additional step during the eight-month pilot project.

Rest assured, this final hurdle is being addressed and we have confirmation from the Employer that members who receive appropriate approval from both the union and employer will not lose pay if the extra step is forgotten.

Your union will be meeting with the employer to address the problem and to work towards a better solution to incorporate Workday into the RUL process. Stay tuned for future updates.

Proudly brought to you by the LBED Education and Communication Committee:

Craig Hadley, Chair

Winston Sullivan, Member

Michael Hamilton, Member

Liquor Board Employees Division (LBED) Divisional Executive:

Colleen MacLeod (L5107), Chair

Jeremy Trainor (L378), Vice-Chair

Rachel Brunet (L4100), Secretary/Treasurer

Jamie Kensley (L681) Chair, Anti-Privatization Committee

Shelly Robitaille (L162) Chair, Benefits and Pensions Committee

Craig Hadley (L5109) Chair, Educations and Communications Committee

Debbie McGuinness (L5110) Chair, Health and Safety Committee