LCBO workers set date in early July for potential strike

TORONTO — Workers at Ontario's main liquor retailer have set a date to strike in early July if they cannot come to an agreement with their employer.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union said they have received a no-board report from the Ministry of Labour and will be in a legal position to strike on July 5.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario workers are seeking wage increases and more full-time jobs, saying part-time roles have become 70 per cent of their workforce.

"We love seeing Ontarians during the busy seasons and we love being part of your celebrations," said Colleen MacLeod, chair of the union's LCBO bargaining unit.

"But we've been meeting with the LCBO since March and they're not listening, so something's got to give."

Workers recently voted 97 per cent in favour of a strike. Their collective agreement expired on March 31.

The union, which represents about 10,000 workers with the LCBO, is fearful of job losses after Premier Doug Ford's government announced plans to open up the alcohol market to allow convenience stores and all grocery stores to sell beer, wine and ready-to-drink cocktails.

Some of those changes are set to take effect this summer.

The LCBO has said it wants to avoid a strike, but said it will ensure continued customer service during a work stoppage.

"The LCBO remains committed to achieving a deal at the bargaining table without a strike by employees," the provincial Crown corporation said in a written statement.

"We have several bargaining dates this week where we will resume negotiations with a focus on achieving a renewal collective agreement with OPSEU that is fair for our unionized employees and helps the LCBO operate efficiently and effectively for Ontarians in a changing marketplace."

The two sides were set to meet with a mediator later Tuesday, the union said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2024.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press