OPSEU members protesting what they call "back door" privatization of alcohol sales

Members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 165 held their second anti-privatization information picket, this time in Stratford.

About 20 OPSEU members staged what they call an information campaign outside the LCBO on Wellington Street this afternoon to protest the Liberal government’s expansion of wine and beer sales outside of LCBO outlets. Last weekend, members held a similar picket in Brantford.

They chatted with customers and handed out nearly 500 pamphlets protesting what the union says is "back door" privatization.

OPSEU Local 165 president Wayne Peck told CTV News that selling alcohol in grocery stores takes work away from LCBO employees. He also says those employees have more extensive training on the social responsibility aspect of alcohol sales than grocery store employees.

In October of 2016, The Liberal government legalized wine sales at 67 supermarkets, and allowed cider to be sold in any grocery store that sells beer. The Liberal government says beer and cider will eventually be available in up to 450 grocery stores, and 300 of those will also be selling wine.

At the time of the annoucement, Finance Minister Charles Sousa said bringing wine to grocery stores is beneficial for local wineries and consumers. OPSEU maintains that it is detrimental, saying that it takes revenue away from government that's used to provide essential public services, and could lead to much wider privatization of alcohol sales in the province.

In the last six weeks, OPSEU has been staging these information pickets at locations around the province. The next one is slated for Feb. 18 in Windsor at the LCBO on the Lauzon Parkway.