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Strike Underway at LCBO: What You Need to Know

All LCBO stores across the province will be closed for two weeks starting Friday due to a strike by workers, marking the first time this has occurred after the union and employer failed to reach an agreement.

Here’s what you need to know about the situation:

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Over 9,000 LCBO employees, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), have gone on strike and will be picketing outside stores.

The LCBO has announced that all 669 retail locations will close for 14 days to transition to a new operational model during the strike.

“We have implemented contingency plans to minimize disruption as much as possible and to ensure our products remain available to our valued retail and wholesale customers. While we will continue operating our business, it will not be business as usual,” the LCBO stated early Friday morning.

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WHEN WILL LCBO STORES REOPEN?
If no agreement is reached by July 19, only 32 LCBO stores will reopen for in-store shopping, operating on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with limited hours.

“We remain hopeful that we can quickly reach an agreement that is fair to our employees while ensuring the LCBO’s continued success in a changing marketplace,” said the Crown corporation.

CAN I ORDER ALCOHOL ONLINE?
Mobile orders through the LCBO’s website and app will continue, with free home delivery available throughout Ontario during the strike.

“Given the impact of a strike on distribution and operations, the LCBO will need to implement reasonable caps on products both in-store and online,” the LCBO mentioned in a statement last week.

ARE OTHER RETAILERS STILL ALLOWED TO SELL ALCOHOL DURING THE STRIKE?
Alcohol will still be available at 2,300 private retail locations across the province, including LCBO Convenience Outlets, licensed grocery stores, The Beer Store, and various winery, brewery, cidery, and distillery outlets.

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The LCBO advised customers to “stock up” on spirits and Vintages wine products, which are not available at other alcohol retailers in Ontario.

Additionally, LCBO warehouses will remain operational during the strike, with contingency plans in place to fulfill wholesale orders.

“We’ve implemented measures across our inventory, warehouse operations, and fulfillment approach to ensure beverage alcohol availability for our wholesale customers, especially during the busy summer months. Our priority is to maintain service and support for our valued customers,” the LCBO noted.

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WHY IS THE UNION CONSIDERING LABOUR ACTION?
The union cites the Ford government’s expansion of alcohol sales as a major issue at the bargaining table.

“We see this as an existential crisis for the LCBO,” OPSEU President JP Hornick stated Thursday. “Do we want a public provider of alcohol as we’ve had for the past 100 years, or are we moving toward a Wild West private model?”

After negotiations broke down, the LCBO disclosed details of its latest offer to the union, addressing demands such as job security and wage increases. The Crown corporation urged the union to counter the offer and work with its negotiating team to reach an agreement.

“For several months, we have engaged in collective bargaining with OPSEU to achieve a fair and equitable agreement that addresses their concerns while ensuring the long-term sustainability of our operations. Despite our best efforts, we have not yet succeeded,” the LCBO stated.

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