Gateway Casinos & Entertainment informed that it will be shutting down its shuttle service for workers of its Casino Rama in Orillia, Ontario. This has led to frustration among workers, as many relied on the shuttle to get from home to the casino in Rama First Nation. One of the staff members, Jack Winer, has even sent a letter to Orillia’s Mayor Steve Clarke, in search of resolution.
Casino Rama is operated by Gateway Casinos & Entertainment, and the property has a major financial impact on the region, as it brings millions of tax gaming revenue. The gaming conglomerate informed that the decision to suspend the shuttle service was due to the fact that ridership has drastically declined over the last two years.
Seeking an Alternative
In his letter to the mayor, Mr. Winer explains that he and other staff members of the Orillia casino do not expect the operator to reverse its decision and bring back the shuttle. He also elaborates on the negative impact of the suspension of the service and says that he is one of almost 100 employees who have been affected by the sudden shutdown.
In his request to the city, he is looking for an alternative transport service to the gaming amenity, but he indicates that neither he nor the staff is looking for a discounted service. He claims that most of the staff would be happy with a CA$20 per day. He also reminded the mayor that when the casino launched there was a free shuttle for both staff and patrons.
Rob Mitchell, the director of communications and public affairs for the operator commented that the decision to terminate the shuttle was made due to declining ridership. He explained that the corporation tried to salvage the program by introducing a nominal fee, but it was not sufficient to cover the costs due to the low ridership. In his words, less than 60 individuals used the shuttle.
Steve Batchelor, national representative for Unifor Local 1090, which represents most of the employees at the said property also asserted that the cancellation of the service has had a negative impact on staff. He shared that the number of affected members is around 34, and he revealed that the employer has no contractual obligation to the union’s members to provide such a shuttle service.
Earlier this year, Unifor Local 1090 and Casino Rama reached an agreement on a new and improved collective contract for unionized workers. The new contract will be for the next three years, and it will grant staff a wage increase of 9.5% over the course of the new contract. It also contains improved benefits, reduced premiums for part-time workers by 50%, and more.
Happy to Be Back
Early in January, Ontario closed down several social businesses including casinos for over a month. Casino Rama was one of the affected by the closure, however, the casino managed to reopen on January 31, 2022. And despite the suspension, the mood at the property was great, as both staff members and patrons were glad to be back.
Source: Dawson, Dave “Cancellation of shuttle fuels anger for Casino Rama employees”, OrilliaMatters, June 9, 2022