Province grants LCBO workers no-board report paving way for strike in July

Customers are flocking to LCBOs to stock up in anticipation of a dry summer ahead. As Tina Yazdani reports, the union representing LCBO workers has voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action if their demands aren't met.

By Richard Southern and Lucas Casaletto

680 News Radio Toronto has learned that the union representing LCBO workers has been granted a no-board report from the Ministry of Labour, bringing them one step closer to a potential July strike.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which represents 10,000 LCBO workers, said the request was made on June 13 before union members overwhelmingly voted on a strike mandate over the weekend. OPSEU says more than 8,000 members participated in the vote, with over 97 per cent in favour of going on strike.

With the no-board report granted, the union is now in a legal strike position on July 5. With the notice now sent, the union and the employer must bargain in good faith and attempt to reach an agreement. 

After the Minister of Labour issues a no-board notice, the province can provide further mediation assistance to help the union and the employer reach an agreement and avoid a work stoppage. Both parties must voluntarily agree to this assistance.

“It’s disappointing that OPSEU could be heading towards an unnecessary strike that threatens people’s ability to enjoy their summers. It’s never been more clear that Ontario consumers need and deserve the same choice and convenience every other Canadian enjoys,” Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said in a statement to CityNews on Tuesday.

“While we hope OPSEU puts consumers first by working constructively at the negotiating table toward a deal, we have never been more committed than we are now to delivering on our promise to deliver more choice and convenience with beer, cider, wine and ready-to-drink beverages in convenience, grocery and big box stores.”

Negotiations expected to carry on

The two sides remain at the bargaining table, with the LCBO calling for a third-party mediator to help with the negotiations.

“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 LCBO said in a statement.

“To assist the parties, the LCBO has requested that OPSEU agree to the appointment of a mutually agreed upon third-party mediator to join the parties at bargaining as soon as possible.”

Talks on a new contract have been ongoing since March.

The union says it is concerned about job losses at the LCBO as a result of the Ford government’s move to sell alcohol in convenience stores starting this September.

Premier Doug Ford recently announced 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 the LCBO would still be the only place to buy high-alcohol spirits and would remain a wholesaler. 

Bethlenfalvy has previously said the government has no plans to privatize the LCBO.

The LCBO also said it is developing a contingency plan for a strike that would “ensure continued customer service.”

With files from John Marchesan of CityNews

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