Message from the Chair
A cautious victory
On Monday, July 12, readers of the
Globe and Mail were greeted by the headline “Ontario Supercorp dead in the
In an exclusive interview with the
Globe, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan stated that he had “unequivocally”
ruled out the partial selloff of the province’s biggest four Crown
corporations which included, of course, the LCBO.
First, we need to congratulate
ourselves. The members of LBED have been tireless in fighting the
privatization of the LCBO. Every day, we have been getting out the message
to the public that the LCBO, which generates billions of dollars in profit
for the province, must remain in public hands.
And our efforts appear to have paid
off. Once again, plans to sell off “the golden goose” have been set aside.
I wish I could say it ends here.
Unfortunately, history has shown that this isn’t the case.
This edition of the Echo had a much
different lead story last Friday. The headline read “Wear your ‘Keep it
Public’ buttons every day!” and the story focused on keeping up the pressure
to convince the government to stop the LCBO selloff. As the Echo was set to
be distributed Monday morning, we learned the good news, and put the edition
Yet, our headline is still
relevant. There are a couple of reasons for “A cautious victory” as this
story’s headline. First, the idea of selling off the LCBO isn’t new, and
never seems to entirely go away. Harris floated out the idea in the 90s. It
was a bad idea then. Now McGuinty has tried the same thing. It’s still a bad
idea. Every time an Ontario government is strapped for cash, they turn a
hungry eye on the LCBO. Every time they do that, we have to remind them once
again that it is bad for the employees, our customers and the people of
Ontario, who stand to lose billions of dollars in annual dividends that go
to pay for health, education and other public services.
The second reason we are being
cautious comes right from Duncan himself. In his interview with the Globe,
he made a very cryptic and disturbing comment. He said the government would
likely be proceeding on the restructuring of “smaller assets,” but that
would involve “hundreds of millions of dollars,” not “tens of billions.”
Duncan would not confirm what those assets are.
So what is in store for us down the
road? All we know is that the sale of the LCBO has been shelved…for now. Is
it time to stand down and be quiet? I think not.
I ask that you continue to wear
your “Keep it Public” buttons every day. Continue to tell our customers,
friends and neighbours that the LCBO must remain in public hands. Continue
to send a message to our employer that we will not let up, will not back
down, and that we will continue to be ready to fight any privatization
There is only one thing that is for
certain: This isn’t the first time a misguided government has tried to sell
off the LCBO. And it certainly won’t be the last.
And when it rears its head again,
we will be waiting. And ready.
Cross-Canada support for LCBO workers!
Unionized provincial liquor
employees from across Canada say they strongly support OPSEU’s fight to keep
the LCBO in public hands.
At a special meeting in Toronto of
the liquor board employees’ component of the National Union of Public and
General Employees (NUPGE) – the umbrella organization for provincial public
sector unions – delegates unanimously endorsed, by resolution, the position
of OPSEU to oppose the full- or partial privatization of the LCBO.
The special NUPGE meeting was
convened following media reports that the McGuinty government is studying
the partial privatization of key public assets, including the LCBO, Hydro
One, Ontario Power Generation and the Lottery and Gaming Commission. The
Liquor Board Employees Division (LBED) of OPSEU felt our members could
benefit from the advice of liquor board employees in other provinces who
have faced the possibility of privatization.
“It was extremely gratifying to
receive the support of our brothers and sisters in other provinces who have
had to deal with their governments threatening to privatizing liquor and
wine sales,” said LBED chair, Denise Davis. “The biggest lesson we learned
is that privatization can be defeated provided we mobilize strongly and
campaign loudly against these sorts of privatization schemes that other
provinces have tried to implement.”
The group shared idea for methods
by which to draw public and political attention to the threats represented
by privatization of spirit and wine sales.
The two-day meeting in late May
brought together more than 40 representatives from all provinces, with the
exception of Alberta which fully privatized its publicly-owned spirit, beer
and wine stores in 1993. The move to a private liquor retail system in
Alberta drove down wages and benefits and resulted in less social
Bargaining Unit Work
What does it mean when we ask:
“What is bargaining unit work”?
Believe it or not this can be
difficult to explain as our daily tasks vary so much from individual to
individual, worksite to worksite, or depending on what area of the province
you work in.
Let’s start with describing what
the term ‘bargaining unit’ means. This term is used to describe a group of
workers who are recognized by both their company (employer), as well as by
an organized labor union. These groups of workers pay dues that are normally
deducted from earnings, which sometimes entitle them to rights afforded by
the collective bargaining process over and above laws and legislation. Some
rights may include salary and benefits, job security, pension plans,
negotiated wage increases, policies and practices for worker health and
safety, better working conditions, bereavement leave, etc. Any worker that
pays dues is therefore a bargaining unit member
Bargaining unit work can be
described as work, tasks or duties that are normally or regularly completed
by bargaining unit members normally or regularly during the duration of
their scheduled shift.
A huge issue at the bargaining
table last year for members of the liquor board employees division of OPSEU
concerned management performing work that was normally or regularly
performed by bargaining unit members resulting in smaller scheduled shifts
for casuals and some not being scheduled at all. Thankfully, our bargaining
team secured language in this round of negotiations that stated:
letter shall serve to confirm that it is not the practice or the
intention of Management to perform work that is typically performed by
bargaining unit employees to avoid the scheduling of that work to
bargaining unit employees.
However, management reserves the right to perform such work as it deems
necessary in the interest of customer service, operational efficiency,
safety, emergency or other bona fide reasons.
For inclusion in the Memorandum of Agreement and not in the Collective
We all need to pay closer attention
to the work we do daily and identify what work is normally or regularly
performed by bargaining unit members in your particular worksite. Ask
yourself: was a casual not scheduled and, instead, the manager is picking up
Is it the busy season and your
manager is picking or handling cases regularly throughout the day?
Does it seem like your department
is always short handed and management is pitching in more often rather than
schedule the hours?
If the answer to any of these
questions is ‘yes’ then you must bring the circumstances to the attention of
your union steward or a member of your local executive in order to protect
the integrity of our collective agreement. Once contacted your local
president will advise the employer’s district manager or regional director
to ensure that the practice is stopped.
We all look forward to secure work
in order to provide for retirement. If we continue to allow management to
perform our duties and not protect the work we do, we are allowing them to
erode the very security that provides for our families weekly and our future
Just as your seniority is a way of
life in the union… so should bargaining unit work.
Protect your work and the work of
your brothers and sisters!
Colleen MacLeod, Chair,
Collective Agreement Update
As delegates representing liquor
board employees learned at the OPSEU convention in May it can often times
take longer to edit a collective agreement than it took to negotiate it in
the first place!
The result is that there’s a whole
lot of foot-dragging going on with our so-called ‘new’ collective agreement.
We did not receive a full draft
from the employer until mid-January of this year. Your edit committee
immediately discovered numerous problems, ranging from minor typographical
errors to salary grid anomalies, to changes that had not even been
originally negotiated. Through a series of face-to-face meetings we have
finally been able to resolve these with the employer.
At our last meeting on June 14 the
problems with the draft collective agreement appeared resolved. The employer
is now doing a re-formatting to fix some pagination and paragraph problems
But we are still faced with some
outstanding issues, including the date of ratification. The union ratified
the tentative settlement on July 14, 2009. The employer ratified on July 17,
2009. That should have settled the
However, the employer also
maintains that the negotiated changes do not come into effect until approval
is received via an Order-in-Council (OIC) from the provincial government.
The union strongly disagrees with this position, especially since the OIC
was not issued until August 28, 2009 – a delay of more than six weeks!
Numerous grievances have now been filed by individual members who have been
disadvantaged by the delay.
The union is challenging the
employer’s position in this matter.
In the meantime, we have agreed to
prepare and distribute an interim copy of the collective agreement for
reference in the workplace. Other than the date of ratification, the interim
copy will reflect the agreement of the union and the employer on the
Interim copies will be so marked,
in letter-sized (8 ½” x 11’) format. One copy of the agreement will be sent
to each store or department and one to each manager and to each OPSEU
steward. A date for this distribution has not yet been agreed. Locals may
wish to duplicate the Interim copies for their members.
Once the date of ratification issue
has been resolved, the contract will be printed in the usual pocket-sized
format and distributed to all employees internally.
Submitted by members of the edit
Vanda Klumper, Denise Davis, Dora
Robinson, Rob Field, Joyce Hansen
June 15, 2010: A new day, a new law and new protections!
Workers across Ontario woke up on
June 15, 2010 protected by the new workplace violence and harassment
amendments to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). While
employers were always required to take reasonable precautions to prevent
workplace violence and harassment, the new requirements are more detailed
Effective June 15, employers must
have a policy and program for both workplace violence and harassment,
perform risk assessments that identify hazards facing workers and provide a
copy to the joint health and safety committee (JHSC), or health and safety
representative, and provide information and training to workers on the
workplace violence and harassment program.
The LCBO has adjusted existing
policies to ensure they meet the new legal requirements. The provincial
health and safety committee has been discussing the new policies and
procedures with the employer, and have been provided with most materials.
On June 9, the LCBO reported to the provincial labour management committee
that policies have been corporately reviewed, amended and would be
re-issued. The LCBO reported that a cross-section of stores completed
surveys to identify risks. On June 14, 2010, the LCBO sent an email package
to all LCBO managers with a request to share materials with LCBO employees
in meetings arranged for the purpose.
The provincial health and safety
committee is very happy that the corporate safety department at the LCBO
will oversee the workplace violence portion of the changes. The diversity
management department will continue to oversee the workplace harassment and
discrimination policies. We think that it makes sense to have these
departments focusing on the part of the law they have expertise in. The
committee also supports the LCBO’s plan to review the risk assessment every
year and looks forward to offering suggestions in those reviews.
Overall, the provincial health and
safety committee believes that the program includes the required elements,
is clear and easy to follow, and provides specific guidance and information
for workers. Work will continue at committee meetings evaluating and
providing more detailed feedback on the program.
The provincial health and safety
committee urges all LBED members who have not participated in a meeting
where information about the new violence and harassment policies and program
was shared to ask their managers to plan a meeting as soon as possible.
Health and safety representatives and JHSCs should also expect and ask for
copies of the risk assessment performed in their store or facility.
The provincial health and safety
committee has been invited to provide feedback to the employer on the new
program. We’d like you to participate. We are asking you to send us your
comments and observations about the new policies and program. We’d also
like to hear any concerns you may have so we can incorporate them as we move
The law now officially recognizes
that workplace violence and harassment are NOT okay on the job. The LCBO
has developed a program for prevention as well as reporting and tracking
incidents. Now it is up to all of us to do our part to make sure that
reporting happens, to be aware, and to make sure that the program is more
than just a great plan in writing.
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