Some Windsor residents caught off guard on first day of LCBO workers' strike

More than 9,000 LCBO employees in Ontario are on strike after bargaining talks broke down between their union and employer. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)
More than 9,000 LCBO employees in Ontario are on strike after bargaining talks broke down between their union and employer. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)

People trying to buy liquor in Windsor on Friday were surprised to find the doors of LCBO stores closed.

A steady flow of would-be shoppers approached the doors of the downtown Windsor LCBO location, peeking through  before turning away.

Oghenekevwe Udusegbe said he was hoping "to get some vodka, maybe some Smirnoff" to enjoy the weekend with.

It was the second store he was visiting, only to discover it was not open.

"I'll just go home and have some juice," he said, adding that he prefers to pick up his liquor himself and would not use the delivery option.

LCBO strike Windsor
LCBO strike Windsor

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), the workers want wage increases, more full-time jobs and language in their collective agreement that would protect existing jobs and the future of the LCBO. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

More than 9,000 LCBO employees in Ontario are on strike after bargaining talks broke down between their union, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and employer.

"We've been very clear that we won't back down in our fight for a strong future for the LCBO and the public services funded by LCBO revenues," said Colleen MacLeod, chair of the union's division for LCBO employees liquor board and bargaining team.

Workers want wage increases, more full-time jobs and language in their collective agreement that would protect existing jobs and the future of the LCBO. According to the union, part-time positions make up 70 per cent of the LCBO workforce.

Tayo Adegeite was also surprised to learn about the strike

Like Udusegbe,  Adegeite said he's not interested in the delivery option being offered by the store.

"I know they actually have deliveries most of the time, but it's always best to come in person so that you can get what you want because most times you might see something online, but it might not be the same when you come into the store to get it yourself," he said.

'It's unfortunate'

Danielle Moldovan, director of marketing and new business at Wolfhead Distillery and Restaurant, says the strike would result into a "huge loss of sales" for them as the summer begins.

"For Wolfhead itself, it means probably about a gross loss of $100,000 in sales through the LCBO, so the longer it looms on, that number will just grow," Moldovan told CBC News.

Danielle Moldovan
Danielle Moldovan

Danielle Moldovan, director of marketing and new business at Wolfhead Distillery and Restaurant, says the strike would result into a 'huge loss of sales' for them as the summer begins. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

She said the figures is based on sales over the last three weeks, taking into account weekend sales, adding that "summer is a really busy time" for the distillery

"It's unfortunate. We all go to the LCBO, it's a place where everybody gets their spirits and we just hope that they can find a quick solution, particularly because it's a really busy time for everybody," Moldovan said.

But, she said, the distillery has seen an uptick in online orders already, and they encourage people to come into their retail store, which is open.

Not overly worried 

Spencer Chappus, assistant manager at Sam's Pizza, said they have been preparing for the strike.

"We did stock up on quite a bit of different kinds of boozes, but for the most part, we actually are mostly a beer and tap kind of restaurant cantina," he said.

"So, we're not overly worried about it. We're not a big shots place … so I think what we have on stock is going to do well for us. We've got a lot of Jameson, a lot of vodka for our caesars and I think we should be OK."

Local LCBO workers on the picket line declined to comment.

Spencer
Spencer

Spencer Chappus, assistant manager at Sam's Pizza, says they have been preparing for the strike. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

On its website, the LCBO said the strike means things will "not be business as usual" and all of its retail locations will be closed for two weeks. If an agreement is reached within the 14-day closure period, it says it will "reopen stores and resume normal operations as soon as possible."

The LCBO website and mobile app will continue to accept orders for free home delivery during the strike.

If the strike goes on past two weeks, the LCBO said it will open 32 stores three days a week, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, with limited hours.

The LCBO, a retailer and wholesaler of wine, beer and spirits in Ontario, has more than 680 retail stores, 389 convenience outlets and 18,000 restaurant and bar wholesale customers.