Detroit casino workers overwhelmingly approve strike authorization

The Detroit News
Detroit casino workers overwhelmingly approve strike authorization
Wild Casino

Union members from Detroit’s three casinos overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike if necessary, the Detroit Casino Council announced Friday.

The vote with 99% approval came as the union negotiates for higher wages at MGM Grand Detroit, Hollywood at Greektown and MotorCity casinos.

The DCC said it could call for strikes as early as mid-October when contracts expire.

Workers casted their votes at the Teamsters Hall from 7 a.m. through 9 p.m. Friday. The results were released shortly after the polls closed.

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 council notes that following the end of COVID restrictions and the legalization of online gaming, industry gaming revenues have surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Workers have been negotiating with the casinos since early September with a focus on wage increases.

“Detroit’s casino workers are getting left behind,” the council said in a statement Friday. “Workers are hoping to win contract gains that would bring Detroit casino jobs 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.”

Workers are also focused on stronger retirement and protections for workers affected by new technology.

Earlier this month, the Michigan Gaming Control Board said the three Detroit casinos reported $104.9 million in monthly aggregate revenue for August 2023, which consist of $104.6 million generated from table games and slots, and $322,186 from retail sports betting. Table games and slot revenue in August decreased 2% compared with the prior month. August monthly revenue was 0.1% higher than August 2022.

The Detroit Casino Council worker negotiating committee is made up of unions that represent the majority of workers at the three casinos: UNITE HERE Local 24, UAW, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324 and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.

“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,” Nia Winston, UNITE HERE Local 24 president, said in statement Friday. “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, said that casino workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, “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.”