“We have a lot of public support”

By Richard Mahoney
“We have a lot of public support”

“We have a lot of public support,” observes Lorrie Scuffell, treasurer of Ontario Public Service Employees Union local 4100 as she and other Liquor Control Board of Ontario employees in Cornwall set up picket lines today at the Second Street store.

The approximately 50 local LCBO workers are among about 9,000 OPSEU members who have walked out in the first strike in the history of the LCBO.

One big issue is what the union calls Doug Ford’s “alcohol everywhere scheme.” Under the government’s plan big box retailers will reap even bigger profits, said Scuffell as passing motorists tooted their horns in support.

In a press release, OPSEU President JP Hornick stated: “Doug Ford wants to make life better for his wealthy friends. It’s why he’s wasting upwards of a billion dollars of our money to fast-track privatized alcohol sales and hand more of the public revenues generated by the LCBO over to the CEOs and big box grocery and convenience chains like Loblaws and Circle K.”

Safety is another concern, Scuffell said, noting that the province intends to permit alcohol sales at OnRoute locations.

After eight years with the LCBO Scuffell is still a casual worker, getting anywhere from five to 40 hours a week. Right now, 70% of LCBO workers are casual – they don’t have guaranteed hours, which means most won’t have access to benefits and there aren’t opportunities to move into permanent part-time and full-time positions, OPSEU says.

The LCBO has said all of its more than 680 locations will close for 14 days during the walkout. If a deal is reached within two weeks, it will “reopen stores and resume normal operations as soon as possible.” If the strike continues, it will open 32 stores Friday through Sunday with limited hours.

The union has stated the LCBO, which has annual profits of over $2 billion, should expand to generate more money for public services.

“When you buy from the LCBO, including spirit-based ready-to-drink beverages, that should help build Ontario – not pay for a billionaire’s new yacht,” the union declares.

A work stoppage does not affect approximately 2,300 private retail points of sale across the province, including through LCBO Convenience Outlets, licensed grocery stores, The Beer Store, and winery, brewery, cidery, and distillery outlets, as well as at bars and restaurants.

Consumers can also order on LCBO.com or on its mobile app for free home delivery on all orders, with no minimums.

In a statement, the LCBO says it “is disappointed that the leadership of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union has decided to initiate the first strike in our long history. For the past several months, we have engaged in collective bargaining with OPSEU in hopes of reaching a fair and equitable agreement that addresses their considerations while ensuring the long-term sustainability of our operations. Despite our best efforts, we have not yet been able to do so.”

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