Thoughts on working my first picket line

For those out of town or who otherwise wouldn’t be in the know or affected by it, employees at the LCBO — the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the one place in the province where you can still buy your own liquor — have gone on strike for the first time in its long history.

I’m among them. Membership into OPSEU, the employee union, is automatic when you become an employee of the LCBO, as I did just over two years ago.

The main issue of the strike is wanting the provincial government, who owns and operates and reaps the multi-billions of dollars a year from the LCBO, to take out any mention of privatizing from our lapsed contract. There are some other lesser issues, like wanting more full-time jobs and a tiny pay raise. Hey, maybe even expand the LCBO to give more jobs to more people, etc. But those are minimal compared to seeking some job security.

Yesterday was the day I worked my first picket line ever.

It was in some ways worse (but different) than I was expecting, and in other ways it was better.

The worse was frankly the boredom of it.
I can’t recall the last time I was bored when I was left to my own devices. Tell me I have a day off — hell, a week or probably even a month — but that I need to entertain myself at home or out and about, and I’ve got no problem doing that. But as it turns out, put a sign in my hand and tell me I need to stand by a road side to draw attention to our cause? For four hours?
… meh.

The upside to that worst part was that I at least knew a good half or more of the workers who had gathered at our rally point (at my branch of the store, as it turns out), so at least I got to chat with them.
I was also expecting, with my writerbrain doing its common overtime thing leading up to the picket, far worse: Things hurled at us or people spitting at us, etc. That, I’m happy to say, didn’t happen at all.
We did have insults hurled at us at times, and several middle fingers flipped. One middle-aged guy in ill-advised wraparound mirror sunglasses, to perhaps recapture his jock youth or something, slowed down long enough to flip me an emphatic middle finger and yell somethingsomething “… ASSHOLE!” before racing away.
Which frankly cracked me up. That anyone could be that angry about this issue is just bananas.
Literally, it’s people wanting some job security. Even if you somehow don’t think anyone should have that (there’s been plenty of “No one has job security, why should you?”-style comments on articles about this strike), even if you hate — nay, like the above gentleman who drove by me, probably fucking loathe — unions, the main thrust of this whole issue comes down to is simply people wanting to keep their jobs.
If you have a problem with that, may I humbly suggest you do some deep introspection about why that is.

The better part of the picketing was getting a chance to hang with some of my coworkers. Not just coworkers, but people who have become more than that in my time at this branch. Friends.
We don’t get much for picketing. But hey, getting paid much of anything to hang out with friends and chat? Not a bad deal, in the greater scheme. It could be a lot worse.

Another part of the upshot was the unexpected amount of support we were getting from the public.
We were staged right by a busy stretch of road at a wonky intersection near our branch to catch a lot of vehicular traffic. I’d estimate about half of drivers, maybe a bit more, didn’t react at all. Of those who did, the vast portion of them — for sure 99%+ — were supportive, honking and/or waving and/or giving us a thumbs up. The ones who reacted negatively, who flipped us off or yelled negative things (maybe because they have some deeper issues) were well under 1%.

Sorry, haters. Seems like the vast bulk of people interested enough in this issue to react at all are wholly behind the people wanting to keep their jobs.

Shift 2 of picketing coming up later this afternoon.

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