Is an LCBO strike possible this summer? ‘Yes, certainly,’ says union

A summer strike at the LCBO is possible as the union representing workers says talks with the government on a new contract are not going well.

More than 9,000 workers represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) are set to hold a strike vote between June 12 and 15. However, the union says it has yet to decide on when potential job action would begin if given a strike mandate.

“We are very far apart,” says Colleen MacLeod, the head of the union’s bargaining committee.

Talks on a new contract have been ongoing since March with the big sticking point being assurances that jobs won’t be lost as a result of the Ford government’s push to sell alcohol in convenience stores.

Premier Doug Ford announced last week that sales of beer, wine, cider and ready-to-drink cocktails would be allowed in convenience stores and all grocery stores by 2026. Officials said at that time the LCBO would still be the only place to buy high-alcohol spirits, and it would remain a wholesaler. 

“We want permanent jobs,” says McLeod. “We need something otherwise we’re going to have to do what we have to do …meaning a strike.”

Both sides remain at the bargaining table and a conciliator is set to join the talks next week.

For its part, an LCBO spokesperson tells 680 NewsRadio, “We are committed to achieving a negotiated collective agreement that is fair while focusing on some changes to key areas that will help the LCBO continue to operate efficiently and effectively.”

The Ford government refused to comment on the negotiations, but Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy has previously said the government is “not privatizing the LCBO.”

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