Sean Allen, chair of OPSEU’s
Canadian Blood Services and Diagnostics Division, makes a statement.
Issue 26 - December 11, 2008
People get it
The part-time economy is not working for Ontarians
The people of Ontario know there’s something wrong with an
economy where the only new jobs are part-time jobs.
And the people of Ontario want something done about it.
That’s the conclusion to be drawn from hundreds of conversations
yesterday between OPSEU members and people in their home towns.
The union held media events around Ontario to get out a message
about part-time and temporary jobs. The message made the airwaves, all right.
But the real story was on the ground.
OPSEU members handed out leaflets and buttons and talked to
customers in front of two dozen LCBO stores from Fort Frances to Ottawa to
The weather was icy cold, but the reception was toasty warm.
In London, Judith Laird, an LCBO casual with OPSEU Local 163,
got more than 200 people to sign the union’s petition. The petition calls on the
Ontario government to pass a law so that employers must pay part-time and
temporary workers the same hourly wage as full-time, permanent staff doing the
Such laws are already the norm in Europe. In Canada,
Saskatchewan and Quebec also have equality protections for part-timers.
“The reaction was great,” said Laird. “I only had three people
who were negative. A lot of people were saying, ‘We have to step up now or else
there won’t be any full time jobs left.’”
Local 163 had huge support from OPSEU Local 164 at the London
“The majority of people can really relate to part-time work,”
said Laurie Miller, president of OPSEU Local 682. “Talking to people in Sudbury,
a lot of them were really shocked that what we’re asking for isn’t already the
“It was feeling like 25 below and people still took the time to
take off their gloves and sign the petition,” she said. “The amount of support
we received was really good.”
“The public was very receptive,” said Jamie Ramage, chair of
OPSEU’s Ambulance Division. “People quickly got what we were talking about, and
the issue was well received.
“I think this is something people can relate to, union or
Ramage was one of 15 OPSEU sector chairs who fanned out to LCBO
stores in downtown Toronto to hand out buttons and leaflets, collect signatures
on a petition, and talk face-to-face with regular people.
A couple of people Ramage spoke to were more than interested -
they were keen.
A bike courier took sheets of “Equal Pay” stickers to hand out
at a meeting of his co-workers.
An LCBO security guard - who works for a private company -
signed the Equal Pay petition, saying, “This [problem] is exactly what happens
in our workplace.”
“I think this campaign has taken on quite a life,” said Ramage.
“If you hit the right chord, people are interested.
“I think we’re going to be successful, and I think the
public is going to be on side. I think we’re invigorating people.”
At the Toronto news conference, OPSEU members were joined by two
important allies with deep roots in the community. Deena Ladd, coordinator of
the Workers’ Action Centre, and John Cartwright, president of the Toronto and
York Region Labour Council, both came out to express their support for the Equal
Pay for Equal Work campaign.
“People need full-time jobs,” said Cartwright, simply. “We have
to address the issue of part-time and temporary and precarious work.”
Vanda Klumper, chair of OPSEU’s Liquor Board Employees Division
(LBED), said the union will tackle the problem in collective bargaining with the
LCBO in 2009. But workers need to do more.
“The problems of part-time and temporary workers reach far
beyond the LCBO,” she said. “Hundreds of thousands of Ontarians face the same
issues. Three out of eight jobs in Canada are now part-time, temporary,
seasonal, or insecure in some way…. That’s why we’re calling on government and
employers to take action to turn poor jobs into good ones.”
The hard day’s work by LBED meshed perfectly with events being
held by OPSEU members in the Ontario Public Service (OPS). Dec. 10 was “Fight
for your Rights” day for OPS contract workers known as “unclassifieds.”
“The employer expects us to do the same job under the same
conditions as our classified counterparts with none of the benefits, vacation,
job security or schedules that we can plan our lives around,” said Nathan Aubin,
an eight-year unclassified correctional officer at the Sudbury Jail. “This is
Province-wide, media coverage of the Dec. 10 events was solid.
CTV, Global TV, CBC Radio, several daily newspapers, and many private radio
stations told OPSEU’s story.
Dec. 10 marked the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. The Declaration says - among other things - that “Everyone,
without any discrimination has the right to equal pay for equal work.”
To view a slide show with more photos of Dec. 10 events, visit
Vanda Klumper took her daughter Courtney to leaflet customers in
front of the LCBO store in Stratford last night - on her daughter’s 17th
OPSEU held news events yesterday in Barrie, Fort Frances,
Hamilton, London, North Bay, Ottawa, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Toronto, and
People had trouble signing petitions in northern Ontario
yesterday because pens kept freezing. Pencils worked, though.
OPSEU is paying a lot of attention to casual workers issues
right now, but that doesn’t mean full-time issues will get short shrift at the
bargaining table. Says bargaining team chair Vanda Klumper: “Your team is well
aware that we were elected to bargain on behalf of all OPSEU members at the
LCBO, not just one particular group.” Contact information for team members is
In their own words:
OPSEU members talk about life as an LCBO casual
The following are the true stories of LCBO casuals, in their own
words. Names have been omitted for their protection.
I work full-time as a health care aid in a nursing home in town,
but I don’t make enough to keep my head above water. To help cover all the bills
I was working as a casual at the liquor store and I drive a school bus.
Everything was going fine until recently when I was let go from
my job at the LCBO because I wasn’t available all the time.
As part of my job at the nursing home we have to work every
other weekend from 2:30 to 10:00. Because I couldn’t be available all day every
Saturday I was told the LCBO couldn’t keep me even though there were people
available and happy to take the shifts I couldn’t work.
You shouldn’t have to work three jobs to put a roof over your
head, feed your family and raise your kids so they can go on to get a good
education. What’s sad is this is becoming the norm
It’s just me and my 17-year-old son and we get by - as long as nothing comes up.
Last year my son got sick and the medication he needed cost $300 and there went
my grocery money.
These days things are a little easier - my son’s got a job at
one of the grocery stores. He’s been there now two years - he’s got Blue Cross.
The thing is, I’m the adult. I work 40 hours a week. I’m the one who’s supposed
to be taking care of him.
Like a lot of people I’ve sort of fallen into the trap - as a student it was a
good job and after school the potential of a good full-time job is just there in
front of you so you keep sticking around hoping you’ll get one. Eight years
later I’m still here waiting but it’s harder and harder to get a full-time
Our community needs good jobs we can count on so we can plan a
life and a future. I work hard. I just think people should be treated fairly.
You can maintain a six-day-a-week schedule with no breaks as long as everything
in your family is okay. You can get away with not having benefits and sick time
as long as everyone stays healthy, but if anything goes off the rails all of a
sudden everything’s at risk.
Several years ago my daughter had to have a kidney transplant -
I had no choice but to stop working. My job was still waiting for me when I was
able to come back, but we had no money coming in. Then last year I was diagnosed
with breast cancer. I had to take two weeks off for the surgery, that was it. I
scheduled all my chemo appointments for my day off. I was lucky - I didn’t
really get sick from it. There were days I was a little dragged out and I was
definitely dragged out when I got home, but mostly it was okay.
The drugs I need to take for the next three years cost $200 a
month. They’ve been covered by Community Care Access for the first six months,
but next month I have to start paying for them out of my own pocket.
For all intents and purposes I am a full-time employee but
because they call me casual they can pay me less, they don’t have to give me
benefits and I can’t even take a few days off at Christmas to be with my
daughter without losing my pay.
I do the same job as the full-timers. The difference between us isn’t the hours
I work or the kind of work I do, the difference is I get paid $8.00 an hour less
than they do, they get benefits and I don’t, they have a pension plan and I
don’t, they get sick days and holidays and I don’t.
The thing is, there is plenty of work to create more full-time positions - the LCBO just doesn’t want to. You hope if you do your time then one day you will get the full-time job. After you’ve given six years you’ve got to follow through or it’s wasted.
It seems like it doesn’t matter how hard you work or how dedicated you show you are, all that’s out there are part-time and temporary jobs.
I have two girls. They’re amazing and they’re really good about
dealing with my schedule, but I can’t remember the last time we had a couple
days off in a row together.
I was recently transferred to a new store. I was told it wouldn’t affect my
hours but now my kids are asking, “How come you never have days off with us
Before I got transferred I worked two minutes away from my house
so I was able to cancel the insurance on my car to save money. Now I have to
drive to work, so my expenses have gone way up.
I don’t think it’s okay for companies to start turning all their
good full-time jobs into throw-away part-time jobs. It’s not what our economy
needs and it’s not what our community needs.