We have to hand it to the union executive at the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union.
As talks broke down between the union and the government last week, union leaders decided to start rolling out picket lines at three liquor distribution centres in B.C.
The union represents workers who work for government
ministries and Crown corporations include probation officers, social workers, sheriffs and, of course, liquor store and warehouse employees.
While the union said it chose liquor stores because the government is moving to privatize liquor warehousing and distribution, you just know that throwing up picket lines around liquor stores when the weather turns warm is a smart strategic move.
Nobody wants to be deprived of their favourite beverage right when the warm
weather starts. It definitely doesn't feel like vacation mode when you have to get into a stare-down with a righteous picketer. And, of course, folks are more receptive listening to the union's side when the government's popularity is hitting some pretty low numbers. Of course, the union has to be careful. There is private competition - and one wouldn't want to permanently scare all the customers away.
Compare that to the teachers' union tactics in its recent labour dispute which, admittedly, had the potential of gaining widespread support. By the end of it most parents were saying, 'just get it done' and the union was left pondering how to leave the Liberals looking as mean-spirited as possible.
Public sector unions have a very tough public relations battle to win. Opponents on the right want them emasculated or entirely gone. The average Joe or Josephine envies public sector workers' benefits and security. If the union withholds services - no matter how much it blames the government - citizens who are impacted just want it all to end.
The BCGEU hopes it can educate folks and get the government's attention with these picket lines. Only time, and the desire for a cold brewski, will tell.