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Stock up in case of LCBO strike

Gimme a double vodka soda. In fact, gimme 10 of ’em.

Boozehounds may need to stock up on their alcohol supply this month in case Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) employees go on strike.

“Be ready to strike if need be,” writes the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), the union representing LCBO employees, in a bargaining bulletin posted to the union’s website on Jun 12. 

OPSEU has set Wed, Jun 24 as its strike deadline — mere days before Toronto Pride weekend kicks off.

Are they drunk?

Bad booze news hasn’t spawned such a community outcry since Fly stopped selling Rev. Talks between management and the union are ongoing.

“No one gets between me and my liquor,” says queer activist Andrew Brett, who plans to raid the Wine Rack (unaffected by the strike) if the LCBO revolts.

Ash Chaudhury, a bona fide Pride reveller, has put his booze supply on red alert, and is urgently stocking up. “I have two 26ers of vodka already sitting in my freezer,” he says.

Rachel Herrick-Sterling, an elementary school teacher, calls the situation “a bloody travesty” and says that — as is the case with other essential services — the LCBO should not be allowed to strike. “It could cause riots,” she quips.

Pride partiers aren’t the only ones doubling up their liquor supply. Bars in the gay village are buying extra inventory to ensure customers remain liquored-up and lively during Pride weekend.

Dean Odorico, general manager of Woody’s, Toronto’s gay Cheers, is one barman buying extra bottles just in case a strike hits. “Mostly vodka,” says Odorico. “That’s one thing you don’t want to run out of.”

Woody’s, like many bars, relies on the LCBO for liquor — vodka, rum, whisky and tequila, to name a few — as well as fruity coolers like Rev and Smirnoff Ice. The Beer Store, fortunately, is not connected with the LCBO and therefore is not involved in the strike drama.

“If the Beer Store went on strike it would be a bigger problem,” says Odorico.

Karen Halliday, owner of Slack’s, a sexy bar on Church that’s popular with the ladies, is more concerned about getting her business through Pride, strike or no strike. However she says an LCBO strike, if prolonged, could take a toll on business. “It may effect our martini nights,” she says.

Some, though irked by the possibility of a strike, say walking off the job during a busy time like Pride is smart.

“Sometimes the best way to get attention from the government is to strike when there is a high demand for whatever your company provides. In this case it’s booze,” says Ronnie-Jetman Hernández, an airline employee who intends to stock up on liquor at the duty-free shop. 

Currently the LCBO employs thousands of part-time workers whose hours can be slashed when business is down, or increased when business booms — like during Pride Week. The provincially owned business is being urged by union reps to hire more employees into permanent jobs with higher pay, consistent hours and improved benefits.

If the LCBO does strike, 6,000 LCBO workers in Ontario will walk off the job.

Here’s hoping they do a shot on the way out.