LCBO workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of going on strike.
Members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) “have delivered a resounding message of support for their bargaining team’s demands with a 93% strike vote,” according to a press release issued by the union.
For Torontonians, it means that just as patio weather (and peak day-drinking season) is upon us, so too is the threat of a strike or lockout from the province’s government-run liquors stores.
So what should Toronto expect if the LCBO goes on strike?
In 2009 when the threat of an LCBO strike was only just narrowly averted, store shelves were cleared out as the negotiating deadline drew near.
Daily Hive spoke with Sommelier and restaurateur, Derek Valleau of Pukka/Ji who was working for a wine group the last time a strike loomed. He recalls forewarning clients that if “the system shuts down you won’t just be not able to go to the store, but also won’t be able to go to an agency either.”
This time around, in the role of restaurant owner, Valleau shares that,
Worse case scenario, what would we do is take an inventory–what do we sell in two weeks?–and go stockpile. To not be able to serve alcoholic beverages would be completely detrimental. [Alcohol] is 25 to 30 per cent of our sales.
We’d pick three or four products and make sure we have an excessive amount. The beauty of LCBO is whatever you buy you can return. All of a sudden licensees will hoard and clear out shelves but people won’t want to tie up money in inventory, they will take it all back…
The pending strike would be the first in recent Toronto history where alternative sources of alcohol will be abundant.
It is still unclear if grocery stores would continue to sell alcohol in the event of a strike, but the LCBO is “developing contingency plans to continue to provide service in the event of a work disruption and will share more with [grocers] as these plans evolve,” according to the newly-launched LCBO Negotiations website.
Beer Stores will still be open for business. And luckily, craft breweries in Toronto have never been more plentiful with their tasting rooms and bottle shops poised to prosper if the LCBO goes on strike.
There are other options too. When reached for comment, delivery service Instabuggy shared with Daily Hive that,
In the event of an LCBO strike, Instabuggy’s delivery of LCBO products would be paused, as our expert shoppers hand-pick the items our customers order directly from the LCBO.
Our customers would still be able to have great wines and beers delivered to their doors in as little as one hour thanks to our partners like Sobeys, Urban Fresh, and Coppa’s, who offer a selection of alcoholic beverages through Instabuggy.
Wine-wise, numerous Ontario wines will still be available directly from local wineries, some of whom even make regular appearances at Toronto farmers’ markets.
Hopefully, a strike will be averted all together and we can all go on patio-ing and picnicking as planned. In any case, there are options if the LCBO goes on strike, though if you like margaritas… you might want to pick up some extra tequila next time you’re in store.