Detroit Casino Council says talks to end strike 'down to core issues'

The Detroit News
Detroit Casino Council says talks to end strike 'down to core issues'
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As the strike against Detroit's three gaming houses approaches the one-month mark, union leadership said they bargained with the casinos Wednesday and have more days of negotiations scheduled this week.

“We are down to the core economic issues, and we are waiting on a response from the employers to our current economic proposal," the Detroit Casino Council, which represents the workers, said in an emailed statement. "It’s absurd that Detroit’s profitable casino industry is forcing workers to stay out in the cold to protect their healthcare and achieve decent raises.

"Las Vegas casino workers are settling the best contracts in their history just like Atlantic City did last year — contracts with the largest wage increases ever, reduced workloads in housekeeping, and advancements in technology, health and safety," the statement continued. "We’re dealing with some of the same players here, so why should Detroit be treated any differently? It’s time for Detroit’s casinos to give the people of Detroit the respect we are due.”

Union leadership released the update as AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler is expected to join casino workers in a rally Wednesday evening outside MotorCity Casino.

About 3,700 workers at Detroit's three casinos walked off the job Oct. 17 after negotiations failed to reach new contracts.

The workers, who include dealers, cleaning staff, food and beverage staff, valets and engineers, say they are striking to protect their health care and improve wages that have not kept up with the cost of living. Workers are also seeking improved job security and fair workloads.

“Detroit’s casino workers sacrificed raises and shouldered heavier workloads so the industry could recover from the pandemic,” the DCC wrote in a statement Wednesday.

The DCC includes the UAW, Unite Here Local 24, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324 and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.

Officials with the three casinos have each said they are committed to reaching a fair contract.

MGM Grand Detroit spokesperson Jason Barczy said in an email Wednesday, "Negotiations are ongoing and we hope to come to an agreement soon."

In September 2020, following the COVID-19 shutdowns, the DCC said it agreed to a three-year contract extension with minimal wage increases “to help their employers get back on their feet.”

The rally comes as the Michigan Gaming Control Board said this week that the three Detroit casinos reported $82.8 million in monthly aggregate revenue October 2023. Revenue of $81.7 million generated from table games and slots was down 18.9% when compared to October 2022, according to the gaming control board.

MGM was down 19.6% to $37.3 million, MotorCity was down 22.8% to $25 million and Hollywood Casino at Greektown was down 11.7% to $19.4 million, officials said.