Why LCBO workers just went on strike and how long stores could remain closed (2024)

For the first time in the history of the LCBO, workers have voted to go on strike, marking the start of what's been referred to by OPSEU as 'Ford's Dry Summer.'

As of Friday, July5, all of the LCBO's nearly 700 stores across the province have shuttered, leaving Ontario residents with more questions than answers.

Here's everything you need to know about the LCBO strike.

Why LCBO workers are striking

TheOntario Public Service EmployeesUnion (OPSEU), which represents the over 9000 employees that have walked off the job as of 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July5, have a number of demands geared toward the provincial government.

A principal issue at task is the provincial government's plans to open up liquor sales to privately-owned businesses, such as corner stores, which the union says will negatively impact LCBO revenue, directly leading to job loss.

12:01am, it's official: LCBO workers are on strike across the province! 💪. Fighting for a better Ontario where public revenues stay in public hands. Welcome to Doug Ford's dry summer 🚫💧#LCBOWorkersFightBack #KeepItPublic #ONpoli pic.twitter.com/cvLaVo7xyb

— OPSEU (@OPSEU) July 5, 2024

They're also asking for better job security, pay and benefits for LCBO employees.

"Right now, 70% of LCBO workers are casual – they don't have guaranteed hours, which means most won’t have access to benefits and there aren’t opportunities to move into permanent part-time and full-time positions," reads a recent release by OPSEU.

The Government's position

While the LCBO strike poses a major disruption in the form of lost revenue (and decreased options on places to go to fill your cooler this weekend), it's clear that the provincial government has no intention of backing down.

Introducing the sale of beer and wine in corner- and grocery stores has been a central project of the Ford government, and with the finish line looking closer than ever, they're not content to bend on it now.

"Throughout negotiations, the union proposed an alternative plan to Ford’s alcohol everywhere scheme," reads the statement by OPSEU, but as talks broke down, it became clear that the union's antlers are firmly locked with the government's.

At the time of publication, the provincial government and Doug Ford have yet to issue a formal statement on the strike.

What the public thinks

Simply put, people aren't happy about the LCBO going on strike, but that's not to say that everyone is un-supportive of the union's cause.

I support the #LCBOStrike! Every year, the LCBO contributes $2.5 billion to Ontario’s public services, funding health care, education, housing, & more. Doug Ford wants to redirect this vital funding to his wealthy allies. Stand up for what's right! #SupportWorkers #PublicServices

— 🇨🇦 Laird Dave62Thompson 🇮🇪 🇬🇧 (@dave62) July 5, 2024

Plenty of Ontario residents see the value in OPSEU's demands, particularly due to the fact that the liquor board's multi-billion-dollar annual revenue goes directly back into public services — funding that will be lost as alcohol sales become increasingly privatized.

So many people more concerned about getting booze than they are for how much f*cking money and well paying jobs are being taken away that the LCBO strike is fighting to protect. Their profits go towards funding public services. Pull heads out of asses and pay attention

— Tyler (@Sprunt87) July 5, 2024

Others, though, are of the opinion that privatizing alcohol sales could drive competition and commerce in the province, backing Ford's resolve to allow for competitors to the LCBO.

LCBO workers are on strike and are holding the province hostage to maintain their war on convenience.

⁦⁦It's time to end the LCBO monopoly, encourage consumer choice and treat Ontarians as adults! pic.twitter.com/H1Is5ik9Ny

— Dr. Jay Goldberg (@JayJGoldberg) July 5, 2024

Others, still, are basically just bummed that there willbe limited access to booze — particularly with the strike commencing on the eve of a July weekend.

Where to shop for booze during the strike

While the LCBO strike will greatly diminish the places people in the province can buy certain hard liquors and spirit-based beverages, there are still plenty of spots that you can pick up a stiff drink while workers are on the picket lines.

Chain retailers like The Wine Rack and The Beer Store are still open, serving a variety of wines, beers, seltzers and coolers, and will likely be able to maintain the largest inventory during this time.

There are also a slew of independent breweries, distilleries and bottle shops all over the city where you can pick up bevvies while also supporting small businesses. You can find a list of them here.

You'll also be able to order drinks through the LCBO's website and mobile app for home delivery, with a limit of two spirits, twelve bottles of wine, and twelve units of beer, ciders and coolers.

How long will the strike last?

Short answer: there's no way to tell. This is a wholly unprecedented strike for the LCBO, and with both parties holding firm on their convictions, it looks like it could last a while.

As of now, all of the LCBO's nearly 700 stores will be closing for 14 days, starting July 5, and will resume their normal operations after the 14-day period if an agreement is reached with the government.

In the case that the strike drags on, 32 LCBO stores across the province will open Friday through Sunday with limited hours, while the rest will remain shuttered.

Why LCBO workers just went on strike and how long stores could remain closed (2024)


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