President Warren (Smokey) Thomas sent the following reply to LCBO President and CEO Dr. George Soleas in response to the LCBO executive’s rebuff of a request for a meeting. Soleas’s letter follows the reply from President Thomas:
July 26, 2019
Chief Executive Officer Dr. George Soleas
Dear Dr. Soleas:
I’m greatly disappointed and quite frankly astonished by your response to my request to meet with you about the urgent problems the LCBO is facing.
If you’ll recall, Doctor, you indicated publicly on television in recent days that you were happy to meet with me to discuss problems such as the ongoing distribution problems.
I have responded in good faith to your public offer to have discussions and I’m a bit surprised that you would choose to answer with empty rhetoric.
You have characterized the concerns of your front line employees as “irresponsible, inaccurate and inflammatory comments.”
Is it “irresponsible, inaccurate and inflammatory” to want to safeguard the well being of the LCBO which contributes $2-billion a year to provincial coffers that fund our health care and education and other vital public services?
Is it “irresponsible, inaccurate and inflammatory” to be concerned about the privatization of alcohol sales when all the evidence suggests keeping alcohol distribution and sales in the hands of the LCBO is the best way to protect our youth.
Is it “irresponsible, inaccurate and inflammatory” to point out that front line workers advised you against rushing into an untested distribution system before it was ready?
I have not received a response from your chair Mr. Nigro so I’m wondering if you are speaking on his behalf. Does he have no interest in meeting with the representatives of the dedicated front line LCBO employees who work tirelessly for Ontario?
Dr. Soleas, despite the fact that your front line employees will find the somewhat childish and petulant tone of your response insulting, I’m still prepared to sit down with you and discuss the concerns I’ve raised with you. This isn’t a school yard, I’d prefer to have some serious adult conversation about very serious issues.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union
July 26, 2019
Dear Mr. Thomas,
Thank you for your email dated July 25, 2019, requesting a meeting with myself and the LCBO Chair to discuss the recent implementation of the new Warehouse Management System at our Durham Retail Service Centre.
The LCBO has heard with disappointment the irresponsible, inaccurate and inflammatory comments you have made in recent weeks concerning the implementation, and your attempts to politicize this issue. On behalf of the organization, including the many OPSEU Liquor Board Employee Division employees committed to this successful transition, I welcome the opportunity to respond to your request.
The introduction of this new system was critical to help us serve customers better and more efficiently. Updating legacy systems is a requirement for major retailers and, as with any major technology implementation, there were impacts – some anticipated and some unexpected. Bargaining unit employees played an important role in the implementation and readiness efforts.
Further, you are aware that LCBO representatives have been in regular contact with OPSEU Liquor Board Employee Division leadership throughout this long-planned foundational upgrade and appreciate their support and collaboration. Ongoing correspondence and in-person meetings to discuss the system transition, address pre-implementation concerns, and post-implementation progress towards resuming regular operations have taken place many times – as recently as yesterday.
I have publicly provided our customers and partners with updates on our efforts to resume regular delivery schedule by this coming Civic long weekend. It is largely because of the dedication of our hard-working frontline employees that I am confident.
We would never knowingly make decisions that put the customer experience or best interests of our people at risk. Our dedicated retail service centre employees and frontline retail representatives are working diligently to ensure we resume regular customer experience in-store by the coming Civic long weekend, I know this is critical to each and every member of the LCBO team.
We continue to take proactive, collaborative, and substantive actions to resume our regular course of business and I invite you to join the OPSEU LBED leadership team in their positive, solution-oriented approach to this partnership.
George Soleas, M.Sc., Ph.D.
President and CEO, LCBO