This week, in an online meeting Caesars Windsor Casino workers, said that they could go out on strike as a pressure tactic amidst the discussion for a new contract. Negotiation between the casino’s management and Unifor Local 444 started last month, and this week, the majority of the workers have voted 94% in favor of such a strike.
Currently, Unifor Local 444 represents around 2,200 workers at the casino property, and approximately half of them are still on layoff due to health and safety restrictions. Many of those workers have not been able to return to work at all, after the unprecedented situation emerged in March 2020, and the casino had to close doors for a while.
Ready for Protests
President of Unifor Local 444, Dave Cassidy, stated that the unprecedented situation and the long closure of Caesars Windsor Casino have taken their toll on the staff members. He also would like to see provincial and federal governments offer more support for workers who are no longer eligible for employment insurance. In his words, there are employees who have been out of work for two years now.
He explained that in this stage of negotiations the union will try to focus on wages, benefits, as well as job security. He admitted that the last two years have also been tough on the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation that owns the property, but in his words, they still have enough money for the improved contracts.
Mr. Cassidy said that the union is looking for a huge increase in terms, but rather they are looking to move forward with their membership. In his opinion, it is about coming in with the right agreement and making sure that unionized staff has job security in the future, and that this is one of the main key points in the discussions.
When the initial discussion started in February, a spokesperson for the gaming amenity indicated that the unprecedented situation inflicted losses to the property in the size of tens of millions of Canadian dollars. The current contract expires in less than two weeks, on April 1, 2022, and the last agree contract was in 2018 when a strike lasted over 61 days.
The beginning of the current year has not been easy on Caesars Casino Windsor, as on January 5, 2022, the provincial government decided to close down numerous businesses including casinos. This was done in relation to the new variant of the virus. Then on January 31, 2022, casinos in the province were allowed to restart work. Additionally, this month the government eased more restrictions and removed mandatory vaccine passports.
However, despite the recent lift of restrictions, the Windsor gaming amenity and the land-based industry as a whole could face another set of challenges and that is Ontario’s new iGaming market. According to a report by HLT Advisory Inc., over 100 of the 500 gaming-related jobs at Caesars Windsor Casino will be eventually lost due to the online expansion of offerings.
Source: “Caesars Windsor workers vote 94% in favour of strike action”, CBC News, March 16, 2022