The Detroit Casino Council has announced 99% of casino workers have voted “YES” to authorizing industrial action by way of strike.
Members from the three Detroit casinos: MGM Grand Detroit, Hollywood at Greektown and MotorCity voted in support of a strike, if it is deemed necessary by the DCC’s Worker Negotiating Committee.
The dispute centers around fair wages for casino workers, and securing increases that “could make Detroit’s casino jobs family-sustaining jobs once again.” Other contentious issues include strengthening retirement and other worker protections impacted “by the implementation of new technology.”
The crux of worker’s ill-feeling comes from minimal wage rises during the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with a macroeconomic climate that has seen rising inflation and costs of living. The DCC’s previous negotiations saw workers sign a three year deal in 2020 agreeing to minimal wage rises in a bid to support the ailing hospitality industry.
The five unions that make up the DC are: UNITE HERE Local 24, UAW, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324 and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters. The Council points to record MI online gaming and sports betting profits, and the success of Michigan’s gaming industry in totality as justification for a fair increase in wage.
“Workers are hoping to win contract gains that would bring Detroit casinos back in line with the standard of good jobs that were promised to hospitality workers when voters approved legalizing casino gaming in 1996 and the City Council later authorized the three casinos”
Reports suggest that as many as 3,500 workers could go on strike should the three Detroit casinos fail to deliver new, fair contracts by October 16, 2023. It’s the latest industrial unrest in Detroit, as 25,000 workers from the automotive industry have been striking for approaching three weeks. The cost of strikes to the automotive industry have cost over $340 million according to JP Morgan.
Nia Winston, UNITE HERE Local 24 President commented: “Workers are fed up in an economy that is broken: costs keep going up, but when profits came back to the gaming industry, they didn’t go into workers’ pockets. Just like auto workers, Blue Cross Blue Shield staff, UPS workers, writers, and hotel workers, Detroit casino workers are considering all options available to make sure one job in a Detroit casino is enough to raise a family on. We expect the casinos to heed our concerns to avoid a strike.”
Terri Sykes, UAW Local 7777 President added: “Detroit’s casino workers of the Detroit Casino Council voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike today because we’re the people who worked with the companies through COVID and put in the time, energy, hard work. The casino companies are making more than their fair share. But we’re not making ours. The message our members are sending to these companies is that the casino workers at MGM Grand, MotorCity and Hollywood at Greektown are ready to stand together and fight for what we deserve. I’m proud of my coworkers for taking this step to take care of their families and enjoy their lives.”