Tentative agreement

Striking casino workers secure 5-year deal with Detroit's big three casinos

Reading time 2:12 min

The Detroit Casino Council (DCC) has reached a tentative five-year contract agreement with  MGM Grand DetroitMotor City Casino, and Hollywood at Greek Town following a 32-day strike. The unions will maintain the strike until members ratify the proposed settlement.

This historic settlement signifies a substantial investment in Detroit's future. The new contract, covering 3,700 employees, includes the largest wage increases negotiated in the 23-year history of the Detroit casino industry, featuring an immediate 18% pay raise on average, a blog post on the website of United Auto Workers said. The agreement also ensures no health care cost increases for employees, workload reductions, job protections, the introduction of technology contract language, retirement increases, and other provisions.

These agreements come after years of challenges faced by Detroit casino workers, who sacrificed raises and shouldered heavier workloads during the pandemic to keep the industry operational. Despite record-high revenues in Detroit's gaming industry since then, workers went on strike, advocating for significant wage increases amid high inflation and other job protections.

The proposed settlement marks a victory for union workers nationwide engaged in a historic wave of strikes, resulting in substantial gains for American workers across various industries.

"We are thrilled that a tentative agreement has been reached, marking a positive step forward in our union negotiations with the Detroit Casino Council,” Bruce Dall, president of MotorCity Casino Hotel, said in a statement, Detroit Free Press reported. “We take pride in providing exceptional jobs and benefits that support and reward our dedicated workforce, and we look forward to ratification of the deal."

The casino unions argued that employment in Detroit casinos no longer held its previous status as one of the better-paying service industry positions.

In a prior agreement, the casino council had agreed to a total of 3% in wage increases from 2020 to 2023, encompassing a period of heightened inflation. This agreement served as an extension to a five-year contract initiated in 2015.

The DCC is comprised of a negotiating committee consisting of five unions, which include Unite Here Local 24, the UAW, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.

On September 29, the DCC secured a vote from 99% of unionized workers across the casinos authorizing the negotiating committee to call for a strike. On October 17, unionized casino workers at MGM Grand, MotorCity Casino, and Hollywood Casino at Greektown launched a wall-to-wall strike affecting 3,700 casino workers, including dealers, cleaning staff, food and beverage workers, valets, engineers, and more.

The workers are demanding healthcare protection, wage adjustments in line with the rising cost of living, enhanced job security, and equitable workloads. It is the first casino strike in Detroit's history.

Detroit’s casino workers sacrificed raises and shouldered heavier workloads so the industry could recover from the pandemic. In September 2020, workers agreed to a three-year contract extension with minimal wage increases to help the industry get back on its feet,” the DCC said in an earlier statement.

"Since then, Detroit casino workers have received only 3% raisesbut inflation in Detroit has risen 20%. In contrast, industry gaming revenues have now surpassed pre-pandemic levels to reach a new record high."

In 2022, the Detroit casino industry generated $2.27 billion in gaming revenue from in-person and online gaming, and the industry is on track for another record-breaking year in 2023.

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