OPSEU Liquor Board Employees Division

The Echo – Fall 2021

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Message from the President and FVPT: Ratified, but stay ready

The vote’s over and you now have a new three-year contract. All of the provisions hammered out by the bargaining team this summer are now in force, and you should have by now received your retro pay (if you haven’t, talk to your steward).

But just because the new contract is signed and sealed, don’t let go of the momentum you and your co-workers built through the latest round of bargaining.

For one thing, your life could depend on it. The Delta variant means this pandemic is far from over. And you all know from tough experience just how much pressure it took from you and your co-workers – especially those on your local executives and health-and-safety committees – to get the employer to provide you the PPEs and safety protocols you need.

For another thing, you could be going back to the Employer to get higher wages. Wage negotiations automatically reopen if Bill 124, the government’s wage cap law, is changed, repealed, or declared unconstitutional before your contract expires on March 31, 2024.

And our constant fight against privatization is more intense now than ever:

  • 7-Eleven – A government tribunal with the power to stop 7-Eleven’s liquor license applications is holding important case conferences about the dangerous scheme. We’re proud to say that these case conferences are at least partly thanks to the hard work of your LBED Anti-Privatization committee, and the hundreds of individual members who submitted letters of opposition. More than 40 OPSEU/SEFPO members have been invited to attend one of these case conferences. As President, I took part on behalf of members at a conference on the Yonge and Eglinton location.
  • “Liquor Convenience Outlets” – To confuse customers and hide their spread, the old “agency stores” have been rebranded as Liquor Convenience Outlets” (LCOs). We’re taking a strong stand against LCOs and will continue mobilize members and communities against the increased costs and decreased revenue caused by these LCOs.
  • Cannabis – We also continue our push to have cannabis sales brought back into public hands. This past summer, Mississauga became the latest – and one of the largest – municipalities to ban private cannabis sales. In this letter to the city council, CCed to the Finance Minister, we continue our calls for communities like Mississauga to have a public option for cannabis sales – an LCBO option.

The work you do has never been more important to Ontario. But at the same time, the risks you face have never been greater. From COVID-19 to privatization, it’s essential you stay connected with each and your union.

By sticking strong together, and with the strength and solidarity of OPSEU/SEFPO behind you, we’ll ensure your work is safe and secure.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, OPSEU/SEFPO

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU/SEFPO

Message from the Division Chair: Rising to the challenge

Sector Chair: Colleen MacLeod

The last two years have been difficult, but our leadership, activists and members rose to the challenge. Our Sector was declared an “essential business” from the outset of the Pandemic. This required our members to make some difficult decisions about their health and the safety of their families.

Many of our stores closed temporarily due to staffing shortages. Early on, we experienced supply shortages of not only LCBO product, but also the PPE we needed to keep safe.

Our LBED Officers engaged the Employer immediately after the government began declaring public health measures that we and our customers had to follow. This process was frustrating and exhausting because the medical science was changing almost daily.

Our Sector has always been a target for privatization. The pandemic has made our biggest fears our new reality.

The rebranded Agency Store Program continues to expand under a new name: Liquor Convenience Outlets (LCOs). These outlets look and feel like “public” LCBOs, with similar signage and branded bags. Most Ontarians are not aware these stores are privately owned and not “real” LCBOs. Our fight continues to limit the amount of LCOs allowed to open, and to promote the many benefits of public alcohol sales. In short: Every community deserves a real LCBO!

During the early days of the pandemic, we saw legislative changes to the way alcohol is sold, delivered, stored, and distributed. In the name of economic recovery, restaurants which already had a liquor license were now allowed to sell alcohol that customers could take home. Delivery services were now able to deliver alcohol with food. When the LCBO introduced a partnership with Skip the Dishes to replace Foodora, the partnership was immediately put on hold by the government to allow the private sector to profit from the high markup in bars and restaurants.

Bargaining during the pandemic was not easy. We had to adapt to the online world of Zoom, which made the process challenging. To add to our challenge, we were forced by Bill 124 to negotiate wage increases of no more than one per cent a year for three years. We were pleased to get the maximum one per cent increases allowed by law, but one of our most difficult hurdles was getting our membership to understand Bill 124 and how it hurt them. In the end, members voted to ratify a new collective agreement in June 2021. The edit and review are complete, printing and distribution is anticipated early in the New Year.

I am proud of the work we accomplished together. I am proud of the strength, patience, and resilience we exhibited throughout these difficult times. None of this has been easy and I recognize all the pressures each of us has been dealing with.

Thank you all for your dedication to our members and I look forward to continuing building our strength together.

In solidarity,

Colleen MacLeod
Chair, OPSEU/SEFPO Sector 26 – Liquor Board Employees Division (LBED)

Contract FAQs

Your divisional executive and bargaining team members have been fielding a number of questions about the new contract:

What do members do if they require reimbursement for safety shoes?

  • In the past, you would keep a copy of your receipt from the store from which you purchased the shoes and then submit the receipt to your manager for a disbursement done through the register. Now with Workday being in place, you upload the receipt through Workday and you will be reimbursed on your next paystub. If not sure, consult with your manager.

What is the procedure for reimbursement for doctor’s notes?

  • Doctor’s notes are to be submitted online through Workday for reimbursement. In the past you, would submit the note to your manager. Now, you upload the doctor’s note to Workday and you will be reimbursed on your following pay stub.

Are employees allowed to take value-adds?

  • Employees are at no point allowed to take value-adds unless they are buying the specific product associated with the value-add. If the promotional period is over and an employee is inquiring about a promotional item, always consult with your manager about the availability of the promotional item.

Casual Benefits Article 32.13

  • Casuals qualifying for benefits must be employed for five years. They must work a minimum of 1300 hours each calendar year (Jan-Dec) to maintain benefits. The benefits begin April 1 and end March 31. The employer sends out notification to the casuals who qualify in January each year. Eligible casuals must then opt into the benefit plan.

2001 hires and Sunday scheduling

  • All PFT and casual employees hired prior to Sept 4, 2001 (with continuous service) do not have to work on Sundays if they chose not to.

Are the LCBO Pandemic Protocols still in place?

  • As we have entered the fourth wave of the pandemic, we must remain diligent in the protocols that have been put in place to protect ourselves and our communities. If the employer has not scheduled enough staff to maintain the protocols then you must have a conversation with your store manager.  Staffing levels in stores must be kept up to ensure that we are doing our due diligence in safe-guarding ourselves.

I’m a PFT, how many Saturdays do I get off?

  • You get 17 weekends off per contract year. The 17 weekends exclude the weekends before and after a vacation week.  As per the CA, members working in Retail Stores, Depots and the Point of Sale Help Desk get 17 weekends off per contract year, excluding vacation periods and leave-of-absences with pay as defined in the collective Agreement.

Does the LCBO still offer LCBO buyouts?

  • There was a period in the late 80s where the OPS and many Crown Corporations offered buy-outs to employees nearing retirement. There are no programs or offerings of this nature at this time.

OPSEU/SEFPO’s ongoing fight to deep-six 7-Eleven

When 7-Eleven said earlier this year that it wanted to start selling alcohol for consumption in more than 60 of its convenience stores, OPSEU/SEFPO LBED members spoke up. Hundreds, including President Thomas, filed detailed and serious objections with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

If 7-Eleven is granted these licenses, how long before all convenience stores across the province are allowed to follow in their footsteps?

“Our union’s members and I stand fundamentally opposed to the expansion of private alcohol sales, and object to all of the Liquor Licence applications being made by 61 7-Elevens across the province,” wrote Thomas in his objection.

The pressure is working, and the AGCO will not simply grant the multinational licenses. Instead, a government tribunal called the License Appeal (LAT) – which has the power to deny the applications — has been holding a series of case conferences about 7-Eleven.

These case conferences aren’t open to the public, but many of the LBED members who filed AGCO objections – and President Thomas – have attended one of these conferences to register their many objections in person.

Grievance Committee Update

Now that bargaining is wrapped up, your Grievance Committee has booked meeting dates for the remainder of the term. The team is focused on reviewing your grievances so that they get heard as soon as possible.

Just a reminder: if you receive a letter or email asking for more information, please get back to us as soon as you can so that we can properly review your grievance.

Quick update on the policy grievance in regards to the 17 Saturdays off. We have had the first day of arbitration and have Dec. 8 set up as the next day of hearing. Stayed tuned for further updates.

Jeremy Trainor
Vice-chair, Liquor Board Employees Division

The power of bargaining over the years

You’ve probably heard bankers talk about the magic of compound interest – your financial gains build upon themselves. Bargaining together is exactly the same.

When we stay strong and united, our gains add up quickly over the years:

  • Vision care up 75 per cent in past 10 years (and now includes guaranteed laser-surgery coverage)
  • 500+ new permanent full-time jobs: 100 in 2009, 25 in 2013, and 408 in 2017.
  • Number of guaranteed Saturdays off has jumped more than 40 per cent, while the maximum number of Saturdays worked dropped by 25 per cent.

Imagine we weren’t unionized …

Every round of bargaining, our managers come to the table with things they want to take away from us: fair wage increases, benefits, a healthy work-life balance. Fortunately, we’re strong enough to say no. But if we weren’t united in OPSEU/SEFPO LBED, here is just some of what the employer would have taken away.

  • You could be scheduled for every Saturday
  • You’d have to buy your shoes out of your own pocket
  • Our managers could replace any store with a privately owned Liquor Convenience Outlet
  • We’d have no Provincial Health and Safety Committee, and no voice in things like PPEs and safety protocols.

Make sure we can keep you in the loop!

To hear about the latest on your current contract – and on preparations for your next round of bargaining in three short years — make sure OPSEU/SEFPO has your most up-to-date personal cellphone number and email address.

It’s easy. There are three ways to do it:

  • Call 1-800-268-7376 or 416-443-8888 and say you’re an LBED member looking to update your contact info
  • Send your name, personal email address, and personal cell to lbedbargaining@opseu.org
  • Update your contact info through the OPSEU/SEFPO member portal

In honour of Local 5107 member Roman Skots

It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness that we acknowledge the death earlier this summer of one of our own.

Roman Skots, a long-time LBED member who belonged to Local 5107 and who worked at Burnhamthorpe Mall in Etobicoke, died on May 22 with COVID-19. He was 62.

A kind and gentle man, who colleagues remember as a steady and calming presence, Roman was someone you could always count on, for a helping hand and a smile. You only had to work with him once, and you’d never forget Roman. In fact, for years after his departure from the Lakeshore location, members of the community would still come asking about him.

On behalf of all LBED members, the union extends its deepest condolences to Skots’s family and friends.

His death is a tragic loss, and a painful reminder that we must remain vigilant about safety. Skots is just one of two OPSEU/SEFPO members who’ve died from the virus, which shows just how vulnerable LBED members can be on the frontlines.

Did you know Morneau Shepell is now LifeWorks?

Our Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider has officially changed its name to LifeWorks. This name change better speaks to what LifeWorks does as a company and directly aligns with their purpose of improving people’s lives and wellbeing. Although they are changing their name, services remain the same and they continue to offer a wide range of free, confidential and voluntary support services to assist you and your family with resolving everyday challenges, complex issues, and everything in-between.

LifeWorks offers confidential counselling designed for your lifestyle and comfort level in the following formats:

  • In-Person Counselling – traditional session format, ideal for families or couples who require interaction
  • Telephonic Counselling – over the phone counselling
  • E-Counselling – allows you to exchange written messages online with a counsellor
  • Video Counselling – virtual face-to-face sessions
  • First Chat – instant support through online chat with a counsellor
  • Online Self Directed Services – self-directed support packages delivered to you electronically

For more information on this program, click here or search Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) on ServiceNow. Access is also available through LCBO Connect.

For immediate guidance, resources, and support available 24/7 call 1.844.880.9142, visit workhealthlife.com or scan the QR code to download My EAP now.

A special thanks to the bargaining mobilizers

OPSEU/SEFPO’s leaders and the bargaining team want to say a special thank you to the 15 regional mobilizers. With the pandemic raging, they had to find whole new ways to connect with members to keep them informed and up-to-date throughout bargaining.

They worked full-time on the campaign from April 29 to June 11, and accomplished an incredible amount in those six short weeks.

It was one of the highest-ever voter-turnouts for an LBED contract vote, and the mobilizers helped drive that success by:

  • Collecting more than 1,500 new personal email addresses from members
  • Verifying and updating the personal emails of thousands of other members
  • Calling hundreds of members
  • Identifying mobilization leads and liaisons at nearly 400 worksites
  • Organizing and presenting during nearly 50 local information Zoom meetings
  • Helping get the word out about two teletown halls, which drew a combined audience of nearly 2,500

The 2021 LBED Regional Mobilizers (top left to bottom right): OPSEU/SEFPO Senior Campaigns Officer Megan Park, Shelly Robitaille, Kim Nasello, Janice Ariza, Gregory Wilson, Greg Scott, Dianne Clarabut, Shawn Swayze, Tammy Rogres, Sean Spencer, Damian Campbell, Judy Anne Jones, Leslie Gagnon, Anne Makela, Rob Mithrush, and Taidgh McGuinness.

Your regional mobilizers

Your regional mobilizers for 2021 were elected by LBED divisional and local leaders during a virtual meeting on October 24, 2020. The mobilizers were:

Region 1

Shelly Robitaille

Greg Wilson

Region 2

Shawn Swayze

Greg Scott

Region 3

Tammy Rogers

Damian Campbell

Region 4

Dianne Clarabut

Sean Spencer

Region 5

Kim Nasello

Janice Ariza

Taidgh McGuinness

Region 6

Leslie Gagnon

Judy Jones

Region 7

Rob Mithrush

Anne Makela

Stay up-to-date

You can stay up-to-date on the latest by frequently checking our website – http://opseu.org/lbed — and by following us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/OpseuLiquorBoardEmployees.

Your Echo #65 – Fall 2021 is authorized for distribution by:

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, OPSEU/SEFPO

Colleen MacLeod
Chair, Liquor Board Employees Division