Issue #2 • March 17, 2009
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LCBO tables takeaways
Making the LCBO a better place to
work just isn’t a priority for the LCBO.
In bargaining last week, the
employer tabled a proposal that is all takeaways. Among other things, the LCBO
remove all protections against
get rid of Saturdays off for
create a six-day work week in
stop paying seasonals for
make sure no casual ever gets a
full-time job except through pure favouritism.
“We went to the bargaining table
with a mandate from our members to build better jobs and a better LCBO,” said
Vanda Klumper, elected chair of the OPSEU bargaining team. “What we learned last
week is that this employer doesn’t want to build with us, it wants to bulldoze
“Our job over the next several
weeks is to stop the employer’s attempts to turn good jobs into bad ones and get
our members the improvements they need,” she said. “With our members showing
their strong support for the team, we will be successful.”
Turnout swells at member meetings
Hundreds of OPSEU members at the LCBO have already turned out to
member meetings to learn more about what’s ahead in the bargaining process. For
a full listing of upcoming meetings (and for all bargaining info) check the
OPSEU web site at
The LCBO and OPSEU opening positions are available online
Key points summarized here; full documents at
Your OPSEU bargaining team for the
Liquor Board Employees Division has posted the opening positions of both the
LCBO and the union bargaining team on the OPSEU web site at
“As negotiations unfold, it will
not make sense to publicize every twist and turn at the table,” says Vanda
Klumper, chair of the OPSEU team. “But we think it’s important for members to
know where the two sides are starting from.
“This round of bargaining is
different from past rounds,” she said. “We’ve got a team that was democratically
elected by the members, and we are bargaining for improvements that were
democratically voted on by the members.
“In that same spirit, we think it’s
important to have as much openness as possible at this initial stage in the
The employer’s position
This is what the LCBO wants to take away from you
The LCBO’s opening position at the
bargaining table is rambling, unfocused, and vague. But through the fog, it’s
clear that your employer wants to change your life at work in ways that just
Some of their proposed takeaways
affect every OPSEU member; others are targeted at specific groups. They all add
up to a bad set of proposals.
Read the employer’s complete
proposal online for details that don’t appear in this partial summary.
Privatization protection: gone
There are three sections in the
collective agreement that protect OPSEU members from having their job sold to a
private company or individual. The LCBO wants to delete all three, as follows:
Finding you a job, enhanced
severance, training. Under two letters of agreement in the contract (p.
185, p. 188), all full-time employees, and casuals with at least five years’
seniority, get several things if they lose their job to privatization. For
starters, the employer must try to find you a job with the new employer. If
this doesn’t happen, or you decline the job, you get enhanced (double)
severance pay. You get money to train for a new career. Plus, full-timers
get a payout of up to 30 days of attendance credits. Under the LCBO’s new
proposal, you would get none of this in the event of privatization. Both
protections would be gone from the contract.
·Contracting out. A
letter on page 212 of your contract says “there shall be no new contracting
out of work that is usually performed by members of the bargaining unit, if
a layoff of any permanent full-time employees results....” The employer
wants this gone. This change could affect any type of work at the LCBO, from
one person’s job to an entire Division.
Agency stores. The LCBO
now licenses about 200 privately-run “agency stores,” mostly in smaller
communities, but the pressure is building as these non-union outlets move
ever-closer to real LCBO outlets. One thing that has held them back is the
collective agreement, which says (p. 211) that the LCBO will not close
retail stores, lay off their full-time employees, or reduce their store
hours as a result of the operation of an agency store. The LCBO wants this
Your 12 Saturdays off: gone
The LCBO has big plans to mess with
your work week – no matter where you work. For full-time employees in Retail,
the LCBO wants to “reduce the number of Saturdays off” and “provide for
additional shifts.” Losing the 12 Saturdays off that are guaranteed in Article
6.4 is bad enough; “additional shifts” means more changes to start times and end
times. It means more days where your schedule doesn’t mesh with the needs of
your family, friends, or other responsibilities.
The five-day workweek: gone
If you work in Logistics, the LBCO
has big plans to mess with your work week, too, but in a different way. The LCBO
wants to change the work week to a six-day week (Monday to Saturday) at
Logistics facilities, Private Stock, and Logistics warehouse offices. As in
Retail, LCBO wants to introduce varied start and end times for shifts, at its
own discretion. Clearly the idea is that you would mostly get Sunday off, plus
one other day (that might change from week to week). And even though your home
life would take a hit, you wouldn’t be compensated with overtime pay.
To further complicate your life,
the LCBO wants to reduce the notice for posting of shift schedules to one week –
down from three in Article 6.4 of the current contract.
Of course, there may not be as many
shifts available if the LCBO gets its way. The employer wants to expand the use
of Fixed-Term help so that these $10-an-hour serfs will be working in Logistics
throughout most of the year. Fixed-Term workers are an exploited underclass.
Their jobs should be casual, seasonal, or full-time.
In another blow against all OPSEU
members in Logistics, the employer told the union last week that “wash up time
in Logistics Facilities will no longer be practiced.” And OPSEU members in
Logistics who are hired after April 1, 2009 will have to bring their own tools
to do the job they are hired for.
Hope for a full-time job: gone
Hundreds of casuals (and a few
permanent part-timers) who have worked at the LCBO for five, 10, or 15 years
carry with them the hope that they will get a full-time permanent job through
the Permanent Vacancy Review (PVR). The PVR (pp. 200-203 of the contract) says
that when a casual works a certain number of hours in a calendar year, the
employer must create a new full-time position in their workplace. The resulting
position then goes to the casual with the most seniority. Every year, despite
many shifts worked that don’t count towards the PVR, as many as 100 casuals do
get full-time jobs.
Under the LCBO’s proposal at the
bargaining table, it may never happen again. The LCBO wants to change the
contract so that only shifts that match a regular work day count towards the PVR.
This means the shift would have to be a full-time shift and it would have to
happen on a regular work day. Further, the employer only wants to count five
days of any calendar week towards the PVR.
With these changes and others that
the LCBO wants to make, some casuals may still get full-time jobs, but it won’t
be through the PVR. It’ll be pure favouritism.
No pay raise without manager’s say-so
If you work as seasonal staff at an
LCBO warehouse and feel like you’ve at least moved ahead from your casual days,
your employer has a message for you: “We don’t like you that much.” If the LCBO
has its way, seasonals won’t move up the pay grid automatically; pay raises will
be “contingent on satisfactory performance and recommendation from supervisor.”
For good measure, the LCBO aims to stop paying seasonal employees for break
Seniority won’t count for much
If there’s a common theme to the
LCBO’s proposals, it’s that this employer hates the principle of seniority.
Seniority was invented for one
reason only: To stop employers from using favouritism when it comes to shift
schedules, training opportunities, promotion to a new job, and so on. The LCBO
is attacking seniority in several areas:
Deletion of Article 29.
This article says that “Permanent full-time employees will not be adversely
affected by job training opportunities provided to permanent part-time,
seasonal or casual employees.” Article 29 also says that full-timers will
not be adversely affected by the use of seasonals. The employer wants this
The employer also wants to
change casual seniority rights (Article 31 of the contract) so that
seniority is calculated based on hours worked rather than date of hire. This
would allow managers to manipulate seniority to benefit their favourites –
not the workers who have been around longest.
In the LCBO’s perfect world,
seniority would not be a factor in job competitions for casuals. Right
now, Article 31.4 (b) of the contract says that, when two casuals with equal
qualifications are seeking the same full-time job, the one with the most
seniority should get it. The employer prefers to hire based on the manager’s
discretion, i.e., favouritism.
The LCBO wants to “reduce the rate
of increase in costs” for the extended health benefits provided under Article
20. This is a roundabout way of saying, “Cut benefits.” In the same vein, the
LCBO wants to get rid of a joint union-employer committee called the Joint
Insurance and Benefit Committee (JIBC). This committee gives the union equal say
with the employer in several key areas. The committee gives the union access to
full information about benefits, including costings, and gives members a channel
to appeal claims that are unfairly denied. And while the Ontario government has
final say on what company administers the benefit plan, the JIBC is a forum for
the union to influence that decision on the members’ behalf. If the LCBO gets
its way, this committee will be gone.
Firing at will and other discipline issues
The LCBO wants to “institute an
automatic discharge penalty for certain offences.” In other words, you could be
fired without recourse to the grievance process.
The employer also wants to delete
Article 26.3. This article gives union members the right to have a union
representative with them at any meeting with management that could result in
disciplinary action against the member. With Article 26.3 gone, members could be
en route to severe discipline, or even firing, before their union even knew
there was a problem.
Short-term layoffs: a distinct possibility
Some things don’t mean anything
until someone mentions them. That’s the story with short-term layoffs.
Right now, the collective agreement
outlines what happens when a worker receives a layoff of more than 90 calendar
days. But it is silent on shorter layoffs. So it was very interesting that, in
its opening position, the LCBO told the union that it “reserves its right to
administer layoffs of less than 90 days.”
The employer says that it
“currently” has no plans to lay anyone off. So why mention it?
Your union attacked
As part of its general anti-union
approach, the LCBO now wants any OPSEU member who needs time off for union
business to give three weeks’ notice (up from two). In a stranger proposal, the
LCBO wants to delete a Letter of Agreement called “Leave of Absence for Union
Business on a Full-Time Basis.” The last person to make use of this article was
John Coones, president of the old Ontario Liquor Boards Employees Union. The
employer thinks the article is now redundant. It’s not. Many OPSEU collective
agreements, notably the one in the Ontario Public Service, allow leaves of
absence for members to serve in one of the two full-time elected positions in
the union, i.e., President and First Vice-President/Treasurer.
Technology protections: gone
You just have to walk into the
nearest Home Depot to see how technology can bring big changes to any workplace
– in retail, in offices, or in warehouses. Right now, OPSEU members at the LCBO
are protected from the worst affects of technological change by Article 49.
Under Article 49, the employer must try to minimize the bad effects of
technological change on employees. It must give the union 60 days’ notice of any
change, and where a layoff is to occur, the employee must receive 90 days’
notice. Article 49 also gives the union a way to address reassignment and
retraining of workers. The LCBO wants Article 49 gone.
Shoes, floater days, and more....
As mentioned above, the employer’s
opening position at the bargaining table is rambling, unfocused, and vague. Some
of the LCBO’s proposals don’t relate to the others. All they have in common is
that they are takeaways.
From now on, the LCBO says, all new
employees in Retail and Logistics will have to wear (and pay for) CSA-approved
safety footwear. For new employees in Logistics, this amounts to $125 less a
year in income.
The LCBO wants to replace some
statutory holidays (Easter Monday, Remembrance Day, and the Civic Holiday in
August) with “floater” days. Maybe the idea is to avoid paying the statutory
holiday overtime, but as with so many of the employer’s statements, the intent
is far from clear.
The LCBO has made many proposals
that seem to be aimed at reducing holiday pay and sick leave pay as well. But
for the time being, details are lacking.
The LCBO wants to merge Warehouse
Worker 3s and 4s into a single Warehouse Worker classification. Then it wants to
increase the work week for Warehouse Clerks to 37.5 hours and put these Clerks
in the same series as the Warehouse Workers. In Retail, the LCBO wants to
reclassify A Store Assistants and B Store Assistants as “Assistant Managers.”
What do these changes mean? We won’t know for sure until we get more details.
Many of the LCBO’s proposals for
the next contract are aimed at one particular group but include an odd phrase:
“Where applicable, apply the same principles to casual, seasonal and part-time
employees,” or “Where applicable, apply the same principles to seasonal
employees.” The overall impression this creates is that the LCBO has simply not
bothered to think these issues through.
“A lot of the things the LCBO put
on the bargaining table are very alarming, but it’s not enough for us to be
alarmed,” says union bargaining team chair Vanda Klumper. “We need to be
determined, united, and angry enough to push this garbage off the table and move
forward with our own agenda.
“We have a progressive agenda that
will mean better lives for our members and stronger local economies in our
communities,” she says. “I know we will all do what it takes to win.”
The union’s position
“We will be seeking to
address chronic problems....”
“To begin, and for complete
clarity, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is not the Ontario
Liquor Boards Employees’ Union (OLBEU).”
So began the presentation to the
employer by your elected representatives last week at the bargaining table.
“Based on our experience with this
employer since 2005, it’s pretty clear that they are unaccustomed to collective
bargaining in the 21st century,” said OPSEU Senior Negotiator Rob Field. “We
thought it was a good idea to explain where we are coming from right from the
As part of its presentation, the
union team explained to the LCBO how the OPSEU membership elected the bargaining
team and debated and voted on priorities to take to the bargaining table.
Those issues are spelled out in
detail in the union’s submission U-2, available on the OPSEU web site at
www.opseu.org/lbed/2009-opening-positions.htm . Key goals for the union
expanded job security
protection, particularly against privatization;
a stronger bargaining unit,
with union work being done by union members, not agency stores, private
warehouses, temp agency workers, IT consultants, in-store tasting reps, and
more and better full-time
permanent and part-time permanent jobs;
fixing a multi-tier wage
structure that lets the employer exploit casuals and seasonals
minimum staffing levels and
other health and safety protections;
improved benefits, vacation
time, and early retirement options;
recognition that workers can
lead better lives through a minimum four-hour call-in, fair rules covering
transfers, and compressed work week arrangements;
proper pay and recognition for
workers doing acting assignments; and
recognition of the union’s role
in a healthy modern workplace.
“Make no mistake about it, this is
new territory for the LCBO,” says OPSEU bargaining team chair Vanda Klumper. “We
have a lot of work to do to show them how a progressive employer relates to its
“The LCBO has a great image with
its customers, and it’s because of our work,” she says. “It’s time to make the
reality of our lives at work match the image the LCBO projects.”
More dates added for bargaining
More dates have been added to the schedule of contract talks
between the LCBO and the OPSEU bargaining team for the Liquor Board Employees
Division. Bargaining is now slated for March 9-10, March 23-26, April 1-2, April
6-9, April 14-16, April 27-May 1, and May 4-8.
More dates will be scheduled if necessary.
Meet your mobilizers!
OPSEU mobilizers are your co-workers at the LCBO. They’re the
direct link between you and your bargaining team. The following people are
assigned as mobilizers in the OPSEU locals indicated.
Guy Jeremschuck: Local 162
Dave Holmes: Local 163
Mike Robertson: Local 164
Mike Sullivan: Local 165
Bonnie Jolley: Local 284
Paula Sossi: Local 285
Deb Altoft: Local 286
Shawn Swayze: Local 287
Matt Savelli: Local 287
Frank Gullace: Local 288
Maria Bauer: Locals 375, 376
Doug Parks: Locals 377, 378
Eileen Allen: Local 379
Terri Taylor: Locals 497, 498
Devon Ford: Locals 499, 4100
Kevin Ramsay: Locals 5107, 5110
Roberto Ianni: Locals 5108, 5111
Craig Hadley: Locals 5109, 5110,
Mellisa Jackson: All Locals in
OPSEU Region 6
Anne Makela: All Locals in Region
Your bargaining team
The OPSEU bargaining team for the Liquor
Board Employees Division consists of seven members:
Vanda Klumper, Chair, OPSEU Local
Denise Davis, Vice-Chair, Local
Dora Robinson, Local 376
Tracy Vyfschaft, Local 377
Lori Davis, Local 499 email@example.com
Colleen MacLeod, Local 5107
Laurie Miller, Local 682
The bargaining team is assisted by
OPSEU Senior Negotiator Rob Field, Senior Researcher Joyce Hansen, and other
As negotiations pick up speed, make
it your priority to stay on top of bargaining news.
1. Attend upcoming bargaining
information meetings (see listing on the OPSEU web site at
2. Receive this bargaining bulletin
(and our regular newsletter, the Echo) directly by e-mail. Just call OPSEUdirect
at 1-800-268-7376 or (416) 443-8888 and give the operator your name and e-mail
3. Bookmark the address at
www.opseu.org/lbed/collective.htm on the OPSEU website to learn more
about what’s happening inside the Liquor Board Employees Division.
EAP Hotline: 1-800-263-1401
The LCBO Employee Assistance Program
is a confidential, hassle-free counseling service for eligible LCBO employees
and their immediate families. For assistance, call 1-800-263-1401. To find out
more about the program, visit:
Your 2009 Bargaining Bulletin is
authorized for distribution by:
Vanda Klumper, Chair,
Liquor Board Employees Division
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President,
Ontario Public Service Employees Union
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