OPSEU News Press Releases banner

Thomas to LifeLabs’ Charlie Brown: Couriers deserve more than peanuts

Toronto – With 150 newly unionized LifeLabs couriers and mailroom clerks ready to strike at 12:01 a.m. on March 14, OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is calling on LifeLabs CEO Charles Brown to come to the bargaining table with a decent wage offer.

“LifeLabs makes almost $1 billion annually,” said Thomas. “Charlie Brown is making an eye-watering salary. But he pays his couriers peanuts – $35,000 in Canada’s most costly city.   Some are barely making minimum wages, it’s disgraceful.”

LifeLabs’ couriers collect samples from offices and deliver them to the laboratory for analysis. Couriers at three GTA LifeLabs locations voted to join OPSEU/SEFPO in 2020. The two sides have failed to reach a first collective agreement, and just two mediation dates are scheduled before March 14.

“All we want is a wage that’ll keep food on the table,” said OPSEU/SEFPO Local 5119 President Mahmood Alawneh. “Groceries cost more. Gas is through the roof. We’re working two, even three jobs to stay afloat. We deserve decent pay for our hard work.”

It takes eight years for full-time couriers to rise from $15.55 per hour to $21.04 an hour, and a number are only part-time. Alawneh noted that most of his members are racialized workers.

“We’re trying to live the Canadian dream,” he said. “We’re providing for our families and making sure our kids do well. We need a wage that recognizes our contributions to LifeLabs’ success.”

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer called out Brown for punishing vulnerable workers for joining a union.

“Asking for a fair wage is not being greedy – it’s a basic human right. Maybe Charlie Brown didn’t get the memo that getting rich on exploited workers is unCanadian.”

“The only way to avoid a strike next week is for the employer to come back to the table with a meaningful offer that recognizes the value of couriers’ work and reflects the true cost of living in Toronto,” said Thomas. “A few bucks an hour would mean very little to LifeLabs – but it would make all the difference to struggling families who have to make ends meet.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; OPSEUCommunications@opseu.org