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An LCBO store in Bowmanville, Ont.

Doug Ives/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Employees at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario have ratified a new four-year contract, but just barely.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union says LCBO workers voted 56 per cent in favour of a tentative agreement in voting held Tuesday and Wednesday.

The agreement, which was signed in late June with the help of a mediator, came just as the 8,000 unionized employees were set to begin a strike.

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OPSEU says the new deal caps the number of casual workers at the LCBO at 70 per cent from the current 84 per cent, and commits the agency to reach the 70 per cent mark within the life of the four-year contract.

Related: Quality-of-life issues at centre of LCBO labour dispute

The union says the deal also increases job security, improves scheduling, and brings an end to the practice of scheduling workers for two-hour shifts.

The LCBO workers had been without a contract since the end of March and had voted 93 per cent in favour of a strike in April.

"Tonight's ratification vote of 56 per cent in favour is a clear signal that there is still work to do to improve labour relations at the LCBO," said union president Warren "Smokey" Thomas in a statement.

"This deal sends a clear message: workers can win when they stand together to push back against precarious work and demand better."

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