Unifor, a union representing workers at several Ontario casinos, has voted to strike if new agreements are not reached by Friday midnight. The strike mandate covers 1,830 workers at eight Great Canadian Gaming Corporation locations. The union says the bargaining teams have prioritized wages, benefits and pensions in negotiations and are also looking to convert part-time positions into full-time jobs.
Unifor represents 1,500 gaming workers at the Great Blue Heron Casino, Casino Woodbine, Pickering Casino Resort, Casino Ajax, Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands, and Shorelines Casino Peterborough. It also represents 30 security workers at Elements Casino Mohawk and 300 workers at Elements Casino Brantford, all of which fall under the ownership of Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, a business that was acquired in September 2021 by Apollo Asset Management.
Unifor describes itself as Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in major areas of the economy. According to union officials, casino employers have bounced back following the pandemic-related closures. "Our goal at the bargaining table is to share some of those gains with the workers who make casinos successful," said Lana Payne, Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer.
Unifor members at eight @GRTCanadian Gaming Corporation casinos have voted to strike if new agreements cannot be negotiated by Friday, July 22 at midnight. #canlab https://t.co/KWaJB28KVK @Chrisatunifor pic.twitter.com/sqQ6GTJLAY— Unifor (@UniforTheUnion) July 18, 2022
The move is similar to that of Atlantic City's Local 54 Unite Here casino union, which had threatened in June with a fourth of July weekend strike due to a settlement issue with the city's properties. The strike was averted as five casinos in the city reached agreements with the workers, which were later ratified by the union itself. The attention has now turned to the two properties that have yet to settle. The Borgata reached a tentative agreement on a new contract last week, leaving only Resorts and Golden Nugget to reach a new deal.
Officials of the union said 99% of workers who voted in ratification elections Monday approved the new pacts, under which housekeeping employees will immediately see their hourly salary increased to $18, which will increase to $22 per hour at the end of the four-year contract.