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Canada Industrial Relations Board deems port strike vote illegal

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The Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) says a strike vote taken by a union representing ship and dock foremen is illegal.

The B.C. Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) said Friday that Local 514 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) had served a notice of intended strike action against DP World Canada that was set to begin on Monday at 4:30 p.m. PT.

In a statement just after 1 p.m. on Sunday, the CIRB determined the union did not bargain in good faith.

The board found that employees of only one of the BCMEA’s member companies were asked to vote on the strike. It has directed the union to take back its strike notice.

Threats of a lockout

Previously, the employers’ association threatened to take defensive action against a strike in the form of an industry-wide lockout.

The BCMEA said in a news release that it issued formal notice to ILWU Local 514 of its intention to defensively lock out all of the union’s members on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. PT.

“This coastwide lockout, should it be required, will shut down all cargo operations of BCMEA member companies across the province, but will not affect cruise operations nor interrupt longshoring operations on grain vessels,” the association said.

A series of cranes are seen at a port, with cargo containers in the foreground next to buildings.
The B.C. Maritime Employers Association issued a lockout notice after the union representing ship and dock foremen issued a strike notice. (Justine Boulin/CBC)

It called on the union local to withdraw its strike notice and let the dispute process conclude at the CIRB.

Federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan confirmed the strike and lockout notices in a social media post on Saturday.

“Federal mediators are working with the parties to help them reach a deal, and the best deals are made at the bargaining table,” he said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The ILWU said in a statement last month that 99 per cent of the nearly 600 longshore foremen who voted were against a “final offer” from the employers’ association.

Local 514 president Frank Morena said at the time that DP World Canada told the union in December it would unilaterally introduce some automation at its rail intermodal yard at the Centerm port in Vancouver.

The union said there were other unresolved issues as well, such as improvements to retirement benefits and certain allowances.

An update from the Port of Vancouver posted on Sunday said the job action would have included a ban against overtime and an end to certain duties, including training and manual development.

CBC News has reached out to the union and DP World Canada for this story.

Labour professor says employers ‘combative’

John-Henry Harter, a lecturer in labour studies at Simon Fraser University, said the BCMEA was “speaking out of both sides of their mouth” by decrying the impact of a possible strike while also threatening a lockout.

“I find [the BCMEA] really combative and intransigent in a lot of ways,” he told CBC News, “while at the same time trying to make the union, trying to make the workers, look like the bad guys.”

Harter said the 13-day strike at B.C.’s ports last year — which involved different union members under the ILWU umbrella — was eventually resolved at the bargaining table, and he hopes for a similar outcome in the latest job dispute.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said job disruptions at B.C.’s ports would hamper the Canadian economy and limit the country’s reliability as a place to do business.

A man holds a series of sandwich boards that read 'I.L.W.U. On Strike against B.C. Maritime Employers Association'.
A striking ILWU worker is pictured during last summer’s port strike, which lasted 13 days. A different subset of workers has issued a strike notice this year. (Wildinette Paul/CBC/Radio-Canada)

Dan Kelly, CFIB president, is calling for legislation that would designate port work as essential, meaning ports would need to remain staffed during labour disputes.

“We can’t keep doing this as a nation,” he said, adding that port strikes “have been just happening so regularly and the economic damage is so significant.”

A spokesperson for the Port of Vancouver said while they couldn’t speculate on what the specific impact of a strike or lockout would be, any job disruption would have a significant impact globally.

 

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Grocery stores can sell ready-to-drink beverages as of today as LCBO strike continues – CTV News Toronto

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  1. Grocery stores can sell ready-to-drink beverages as of today as LCBO strike continues  CTV News Toronto
  2. Ontario’s accelerated alcohol plan is a slap in face to workers  TVO Today
  3. Everything you need to know about the state of alcohol sales in Ontario  Financial Post
  4. Second day of talks between LCBO and union  CTV News Toronto
  5. Ready-to-drink beverages expand to grocery stores as LCBO strike continues  Global News Toronto

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Half of Ontarians support union’s goals in ongoing LCBO strike: poll

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Fewer than one-third of Ontarians say they want the provincial government to intervene to end the 12-day strike at Ontario’s main liquor retailer, while about half are supportive of the striking union’s demands.

That’s according to a new Leger poll that asked if the government should use binding arbitration or legislation to ensure LCBO stores open as soon as possible.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents supported such a move, while 44 per cent opposed it. The poll also asked if respondents support the union’s stated goals, including wage increases and more permanent positions. Just under half, 49 per cent, answered in the affirmative, while 25 per cent said they were not supportive.

Awareness of the strike in Ontario is high, according to the poll, with 89 per cent saying they knew about it, though only 15 per cent reported being personally affected. The Leger poll of 601 residents, conducted last weekend, can’t be assigned a margin of error because online surveys are not considered truly random samples.

Approximately 10,000 workers at the LCBO walked off the job on July 5 after negotiations broke down.

The union representing the workers said the sides were headed back to the bargaining table Wednesday.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has said the main issue is the province’s alcohol expansion plans that would see ready-to-drink cocktails sold outside LCBO stores — a move it maintains poses an existential threat to the LCBO and could lead to major job losses.

Colleen MacLeod, chair of the union’s LCBO bargaining unit, has said the plan would “mean thousands of lost jobs, fewer hours for the 70 per cent of LCBO retail workers who are casual and struggling to make ends meet, and hundreds of millions in dollars of lost public revenues drained from health care, education and infrastructure.”

The LCBO, a Crown corporation, nets the province $2.5 billion a year.

On Monday, the Ontario government sped up its expansion plan. The 450 stores across Ontario already licensed to sell beer, wine and ciders will be able to start ordering coolers and seltzers on Thursday and sell them as soon as they arrive.

The province has said it does not want to privatize the LCBO, and that the expansion is about giving people more choice and more convenience to buy alcohol.

Stephanie Ross, an associate professor in the school of labour studies at McMaster University, said Premier Doug Ford doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to labour, given the high-profile disputes in recent years with health-care and education workers. And he’s faced accusations of making policy moves that benefit friends in the private sector, a criticism that’s been levied against him in the LCBO dispute.

“There is a base of support for the union’s message here, both in terms of the working conditions that they’re trying to fight to improve, and in terms of the role that the LCBO plays in funding public services in the province,” she said.

But the public may not be as sympathetic to LCBO workers as it has been to some others, like in the Metro grocery workers’ strike last year, she said — a relatively straightforward fight by low-paid workers struggling to afford food against the industry being partially blamed for food prices.

“And so in the depths of a kind of historic cost-of-living crisis, I think it was easier to feel sympathy for such workers in terms of really having to fight to make up lost ground.”

That means the LCBO union has its work cut out to try and convince the public of its cause, said Ross, especially when consumers are already divided on the liquor privatization issue in the first place. She thinks the union is doing a good job, however, of arguing the case for the LCBO as a public asset that helps fund important public services.

Larry Savage, a professor in the labour studies department at Brock University, said it’s clear both the union and the Ford government “are working hard to win over the public to their respective positions.”

The union has a “potentially powerful strategy” to gain public support, but it’s not a surefire one, he said in an email.

This strategy “requires people to connect the dots between the privatization of the LCBO and the loss of a critical revenue stream that contributes billions to public services like health care and education.”

Meanwhile, the government’s strategy has been to try and leverage consumer frustration over the strike in order to drive more support for increased privatization, said Savage.

“It’s a high-risk strategy because a heavy-handed approach can sometimes backfire and garner greater sympathy for the workers and their cause.”

In the Leger poll, 32 per cent of respondents said they looked for alternative locations to buy alcohol due to the strike, and while 15 per cent said they were concerned the strike could cause them to spend more money on alcohol.

Savage said while many consumers are likely inconvenienced, he also thinks most Ontarians are suspicious of the premier’s intentions when it comes to the LCBO: “It’s a classic case of private profits over the public good.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2024.

 

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Half of Ontarians support union’s goals in ongoing LCBO strike: poll

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Fewer than one-third of Ontarians say they want the provincial government to intervene to end the 12-day strike at Ontario’s main liquor retailer, while about half are supportive of the striking union’s demands.

That’s according to a new Leger poll that asked if the government should use binding arbitration or legislation to ensure LCBO stores open as soon as possible.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents supported such a move, while 44 per cent opposed it. The poll also asked if respondents support the union’s stated goals, including wage increases and more permanent positions. Just under half, 49 per cent, answered in the affirmative, while 25 per cent said they were not supportive.

Awareness of the strike in Ontario is high, according to the poll, with 89 per cent saying they knew about it, though only 15 per cent reported being personally affected. The Leger poll of 601 residents, conducted last weekend, can’t be assigned a margin of error because online surveys are not considered truly random samples.

Approximately 10,000 workers at the LCBO walked off the job on July 5 after negotiations broke down.

The union representing the workers said the sides were headed back to the bargaining table Wednesday.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has said the main issue is the province’s alcohol expansion plans that would see ready-to-drink cocktails sold outside LCBO stores — a move it maintains poses an existential threat to the LCBO and could lead to major job losses.

Colleen MacLeod, chair of the union’s LCBO bargaining unit, has said the plan would “mean thousands of lost jobs, fewer hours for the 70 per cent of LCBO retail workers who are casual and struggling to make ends meet, and hundreds of millions in dollars of lost public revenues drained from health care, education and infrastructure.”

The LCBO, a Crown corporation, nets the province $2.5 billion a year.

On Monday, the Ontario government sped up its expansion plan. The 450 stores across Ontario already licensed to sell beer, wine and ciders will be able to start ordering coolers and seltzers on Thursday and sell them as soon as they arrive.

The province has said it does not want to privatize the LCBO, and that the expansion is about giving people more choice and more convenience to buy alcohol.

Stephanie Ross, an associate professor in the school of labour studies at McMaster University, said Premier Doug Ford doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to labour, given the high-profile disputes in recent years with health-care and education workers. And he’s faced accusations of making policy moves that benefit friends in the private sector, a criticism that’s been levied against him in the LCBO dispute.

“There is a base of support for the union’s message here, both in terms of the working conditions that they’re trying to fight to improve, and in terms of the role that the LCBO plays in funding public services in the province,” she said.

But the public may not be as sympathetic to LCBO workers as it has been to some others, like in the Metro grocery workers’ strike last year, she said — a relatively straightforward fight by low-paid workers struggling to afford food against the industry being partially blamed for food prices.

“And so in the depths of a kind of historic cost-of-living crisis, I think it was easier to feel sympathy for such workers in terms of really having to fight to make up lost ground.”

That means the LCBO union has its work cut out to try and convince the public of its cause, said Ross, especially when consumers are already divided on the liquor privatization issue in the first place. She thinks the union is doing a good job, however, of arguing the case for the LCBO as a public asset that helps fund important public services.

Larry Savage, a professor in the labour studies department at Brock University, said it’s clear both the union and the Ford government “are working hard to win over the public to their respective positions.”

The union has a “potentially powerful strategy” to gain public support, but it’s not a surefire one, he said in an email.

This strategy “requires people to connect the dots between the privatization of the LCBO and the loss of a critical revenue stream that contributes billions to public services like health care and education.”

Meanwhile, the government’s strategy has been to try and leverage consumer frustration over the strike in order to drive more support for increased privatization, said Savage.

“It’s a high-risk strategy because a heavy-handed approach can sometimes backfire and garner greater sympathy for the workers and their cause.”

In the Leger poll, 32 per cent of respondents said they looked for alternative locations to buy alcohol due to the strike, and while 15 per cent said they were concerned the strike could cause them to spend more money on alcohol.

Savage said while many consumers are likely inconvenienced, he also thinks most Ontarians are suspicious of the premier’s intentions when it comes to the LCBO: “It’s a classic case of private profits over the public good.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2024.

 

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