Tentative agreements with Unifor

Ontario: Strikes averted at six Great Canadian casinos; workers in Pickering and Ajax on the picket line with negotiations ongoing

Pickering Casino workers on strike.
Reading time 1:56 min

Strikes at six of eight casinos in Ontario owned by operator Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC) have now been averted. The development comes after the bargain committees for unionized workers signed a tentative agreement with the venues. However, negotiations are continuing between the company and Unifor members at Pickering Casino Resort and Casino Ajax, with workers on strike until a deal is reached.

Signed agreements include Great Blue Heron Casino, Casino Woodbine, Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands, Shorelines Casino Peterborough, Elements Casino Mohawk, and Elements Casino Brantford. Details of the tentative agreement will be released following the membership ratification votes to be held during the coming week.

The union announced workers at Durham Region’s Pickering Casino Resort and Casino Ajax would be going on strike starting last Saturday. Committees continued to negotiate over the weekend, but no reports on agreements have been made thus far.

Corey Dalton, President of Local 1090, said: "There is an unacceptable gap in the wages and benefits between workers doing the same job for the same employer an hour down the highway. This strike is about fair working conditions across the gaming sector during uncertain economic times."

The coordinated bargaining tables for Unifor members at GCGC properties met last week in Toronto seeking improvements to wages, benefits, and pensions. Unifor negotiators were also trying to reduce the employer's reliance on precarious part-time jobs.

Chris MacDonald, Assistant to the Unifor National President, said the gaming sector workers were "pivotal" to ensuring GCGC casinos rebounded following the COVID-19 shutdowns. "It has been a very difficult period for casino workers and these tentative agreements are a step in the right direction," he added. 

More than 2,000 unionized workers would have gone on strike at 12:01 a.m. Saturday if the agreements had not been reached, impacting staff for table games and slots, security, cashiering, food and beverage, kitchen and culinary, guest services, housekeeping and maintenance.

Last week, Great Canadian Gaming said it had put "contingency plans" in place in the event of a strike, in order to minimize disruption and continue operations for its guests. However, details on these plans were not provided, and it is unclear yet if these are being utilized in the two properties facing a strike.

Unifor describes itself as Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in major areas of the economy.

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