wine rack

It just got a lot harder to shop at Wine Rack in Toronto

If wine and wine-based coolers are your usual drink of choice for outdoor summertime imbibements, you'll have to make a pit stop somewhere other than your local Wine Rack location in the GTA as of Monday, because employees of the brand have gone on strike.

Residents are being asked by the union representing wine merchants in the City of Toronto not to shop at the retailer in solidarity with staff who are asking for better pay, new scheduling processes, different roles for managers and managers-in-training, and more.

Customers are also being asked not to cross active picket lines, which will be present at locations across the Toronto area.

According to an email from higher ups at the company that was sent to employees and shared to social media late last month, there are "significant outstanding issues" between the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2 union and the company, which states that most Wine Rack locations are not part of the union.

"The union is demanding the schedule be based on seniority and limit wine merchants to 30 hours or less per week... but the company continues to believe that scheduling should be based on the abilities, interests and availability of each unique wine merchant," the email purported to be from Wine Rack's director of operations & retail reads.

The business goes on to state that they have received "zero feedback" from employees who would prefer this new system, which would mean that individuals would potentially have to travel to work at different locations than their home store to cover a shift, based on their seniority compared to that of other team members at that store.

But the union believes that hours are currently divided up on a very arbitrary basis that does not take into account how many years a person has invested with the company, and that leaves employees with vastly different schedules week-to-week.

The Twitter account @HackWine, seemingly set up to support union demands, claims the missive misrepresents union demands and is "disparaging the union & discouraging workers from striking."

Picketing will be taking place from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., and is open to Wine Rack workers or those interested in coming to support them.

Those looking to grab a bottle of their favourite wine in the coming days would be wisest to do so at their neighbourhood LCBO — or, even better, from one of the countless local bars and restaurants that are selling alcohol for takeout.

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