Thousands attend LBED tentative-agreement town halls

Expressing praise for their bargaining team and disappointment in their employer, thousands of OPSEU/SEFPO members working for the LCBO took part in two telephone town halls on May 20 to talk about their tentative agreement.

“It doesn’t take many words to describe this tentative agreement: all gains, no losses,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “Your bargaining team was hamstrung under Bill 124, but the strategy they and staff came up with was spot on. It’s safe to say they didn’t leave a cent on the table.”

Liquor Board Employee Division (LBED) Bargaining and Divisional Chair Colleen MacLeod said the employer was focused on takeaways from the start.

“We rejected all of the employer’s takeaways,” said MacLeod. “But we wouldn’t have had the strength to do that if it weren’t for the hard work of all the mobilizers, and all the support and solidarity from you.”

Over the course of the two town halls, a number of members thanked the bargaining team and asked questions on everything from the length of the contract to protections for casuals and how to vote on the tentative agreement.

Voting will open June 8 at 8 a.m. and close on June 10 at 9 p.m. Because of the pandemic, there will be no in-person ballot boxes. All voting will take place virtually on the Simply Voting secure electronic voting platform.

Most will vote using their personal email. Members should ensure OPSEU/SEFPO has their personal email address by emailing it to lbedbargaining@opseu.org or by filling out this short web form: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/qr_code/lbedmobilizing

Those without a personal email address or reliable Internet can make arrangements to vote by dial-in phone by ensuring their local president, regional mobilizer, or staff rep have their up-to-date mailing address.

“Please make sure OPSEU/SEFPO has your personal email address – that’s how you’re going to get your ballot,” said MacLeod. “If you don’t have a personal email address, please get in touch with your local president so we can mail you what you need to vote by dialing in on your phone.”

MacLeod, who was been on the last four LBED bargaining teams, said the government’s wage-cap Bill 124 had a profound effect on bargaining. In fact, the legislation is the answer to everything from “Why is the contract just three years instead of the usual four?” to “Why isn’t there a signing bonus?”

“I’m sorry to have to keep coming back to Bill 124, but it had such a huge impact,” said Macleod. “Any gains that cost the LCBO any money need to be taken into account under Bill 124. And they can’t add up to an increase of more than one per cent for wages and one per cent for total benefits.

“So on the question of a signing bonus, we decided to go for general increases of one per cent a year for three years instead,” said MacLeod. “Those wage increases compound, so they get more valuable through the rest of your career. Signing bonuses don’t compound and are worth less in the long run.”

She said the employer flatly refused the bargaining team’s significant proposals on pandemic planning, pay, and preparedness.

Thomas said OPSEU/SEFPO will continue advocating loudly for proper pandemic pay, equipment, and protocols.

“I’m sure there will be a full public inquiry into all aspects of the pandemic,” said Thomas. “We’ll be lobbying for labour to have a table at that inquiry, where we can say that, in the event of future pandemics, things like pandemic pay and PPEs automatically kick in by law so that we’re never caught flat-footed again.”

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