Day of Action held to prevent LCBO privatization

Mar 14, 2024 | Headlines, News, Provincial News

LCBO employees represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) rallied in 11 cities in Ontario on March 12 to send a message to the provincial government to stop the sell-off of the LCBO.

They rallied with a giant banner consisting of the signatures of almost 7,000 LCBO workers to stop the sell-off and keep the LCBO public.

The Streetsville rally was held on Queen Street by Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Nina Tangri’s office.

At this location, Frank Gullace, the vice president for the local 288 Liquor Board Employee Division (LBED), led the rally with a speech.

“Cases have been taken out of our warehouses and have been put into private warehouses for distribution, that’s shameful. We should keep all of our distribution within the LCBO,” Gullace said.

“We need you to send a clear message to Ford that we will not accept the sell-off of this important Ontario asset,” he said.

Chad Oldfield holding up a rally sign.

Chad Oldfield, OPSEU Executive Board Member for Region 2. Photo credit: Julia Vellucci

Before the rally, Gullace told Humber News if the LCBO becomes privatized, a huge concern is if any government regulations will still occur. The LCBO has a social responsibility and tests all its products twice a year to ensure they meet standards.

“We, as an LCBO employee, are trained to pick those measures like the social responsibility of checking ID and if you’re not serving anybody that’s under the influence or intoxicated,” he said.

“We don’t know what the government will do when they sell it to a private retailer,” Gullace said. “Are they going to still be involved in a certain way?

“We just don’t know, but right now we give around $2.5 billion in dividends of taxes to the government to spend on healthcare, infrastructure, social services, so that could be lost as well,” he said.

Premier Doug Ford announced in December 2023 that beer, wine, cider and ready-to-drink, low-alcohol cocktails will be allowed in participating convenience stores, grocery and big box stores, starting no later than Jan. 1, 2026.

He denied that he intended to sell off the LCBO a day after the demonstrations.

However, OPSEU president J.P. Hornick said Thursday the government is shedding the agency.

“Tuesday’s LCBO Day of Action was organized by LCBO workers who are first-hand witnesses to the sell-off of the LCBO, piece by piece, every day,” Hornick said. “LCBO members know exactly how the Ford government is selling off the work of the LCBO to private warehouses, off-site companies, and shifting alcohol sales from the LCBO to private retailers.”

The 2022-2023 LCBO Annual Report said in addition to hitting a record dividend of $2.58 billion to the Ontario government to support healthcare, education and infrastructure, more than $14.6 million was raised in charitable donations to support the health and well-being of Ontario’s diverse communities.

Side view of LCBO workers rallying with flags.

LCBO workers conversing with one another and standing strong together during the rally. Photo credit: Julia Vellucci

President for the Local 288 LBED, James Ciufo, said the rally was to inform MPPs about what is going on, how serious everyone is and how they stand for good quality jobs in Ontario.

“We make enough money to keep this province going and it is time to give us some respect. We are the ones doing the front running for them,” Ciufo said.

OPSEU Executive Board Member for Region 2, Chad Oldfield, said the rally was all about building worker power by standing up and saying it is not okay to sell the LCBO.

“I think we’re here to send a message to Doug Ford’s government that it’s not okay for them to sell off the LCBO,” Oldfield said.

“We want to keep the services public and we also want a fair contract. We want the government to fairly negotiate with the LBED bargaining team in order to get a fair contract in place,” he said.

Store 183 shop steward Richard Messer said employees they do not want the LCBO privatized and want to ensure that the legacy of the LCBO lasts forever.

“Frank (Gullace) indicated earlier today that this is not just about the here and now. This is about the future. This is about how people are going to grow within the LCBO,” Messer said.

“There are employees that have been here for 45 years,” he said. “We certainly don’t want to see it privatized.

“We don’t want to see it go into a situation where it’s handed off to grocery stores and people who cannot take good care of how the LCBO operates in terms of its safety and programming,” Messer said.

The LBED Bargaining Team will keep the public informed as they learn about new bargaining dates.