Let the booze hoarding begin: Ontario liquor store workers vote for strike


(J.P. Moczulski/CP)

Members of the union that represents workers at LCBO stores — Ontario’s provincial liquor stores — have voted 95 per cent in favour of a strike.

“That number should send a pretty powerful message to LCBO management that their own employees are profoundly dissatisfied with the pace of negotiations,” Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), said in a press release.

OPSEU represents more than 7,000 LCBO retail staff, warehouse workers and head office employees. Their four-year contract ended on March 31 and the union says that the two sides have been in bargaining since February with little progress.

The news created some concern among Ontarians, who would be forced to buy their booze at the Beer Store (which only sells beer), should the strike occur.

But, before everyone runs to their nearest LCBO to stock up, take this into account: LCBO employees have no immediate plans to strike and they also voted in favour of a strike mandate in 2003 and 2009, without going on strike in either of those years.

However, it did resemble the apocalypse in LCBO stores before the last potential strike in 2009, as antsy shoppers crowded into liquor stores and pretty much emptied shelves in the days before the union and managers reached a new agreement.

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Let the booze hoarding begin: Ontario liquor store workers vote for strike

  1. Close the LCBO and let alcohol be sold by anyone in the retail business. The LCBO is limiting the suppliers, showing preferential treatment to the big companies and “Controlling” a product that should be sold anywhere. Isn’t it strange that we control alcohol but the US won’t control guns?

    • How is that strange? Unlike the US, we recognize that products that do social harm should be controlled. And the huge profits made from the sale of addictive ones should not be handed out to private interests, they should be funnelled back into medical costs, police work etc, that go hand in hand with their use or else the rest of society is in effect subsidizing them. You’re right about preferential treatment to the big companies, but “freedom” isn’t the most important value here. The LCBO is a great cash cow and a little labour strife doesn’t change that.

      • Actually it isn’t just the US that lets private interests sell alcohol. We do it in other provinces in Canada including Alberta. The products are still “controlled” because the government is still the “supplier” and hours of operation are still fixed by the government. The prices are also for the most part fixed as the product is purchased from the government and is heavily taxed. However, we do not pay nearly as high a price for the product as you pay in Ontario because the private owners are not employer unionized workers. Rather these are owner-operated shops. We have wine specialty stores, etc. I am not sure that liquor is not any less of a big “cash cow” in Alberta than it is in Ontario and it is much less of a headache to the government.

        As for your contention that it is better for the government to funnel cash from the sale of an addictive substance into their own coffers vs. into the pockets of private citizens…your argument seems dubious at best. There is no way that any government is spending the amount of money they glean from VLTs, racetracks, liquor sales, lotteries, etc. into addictions counselling where it should be going. If the government had an conscience they would get out of the business all together. It is like the Catholic Church holding bingo in the basement.

  2. So why the misleading headline if a strike is not imminent?

    • AGREED. I had my coat on and my keys in my hand to go stock up.

  3. oh goody just like saudi arabia . can we move to 21 century please.

  4. Privatize. Them. All!

    We’ll get the job done at half the price and with a fraction of the sick days.

  5. would beer stores be closed too? or just LCBOs

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