Detroit casino workers strike: Tentative deal for 5-year contract

Detroit Free Press
Detroit casino workers strike: Tentative deal for 5-year contract
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A deal has been reached that could soon end Detroit casino workers' 32-day strike.

The Detroit Casino Council, representing the 3,700 striking casino workers across five unions, announced Friday that they have a tentative agreement for a new five-year contract with the three Detroit casinos — MGM Grand, MotorCity and Hollywood Casino at Greektown.

The workers will continue to strike until the agreement has been ratified. The ratification votes by each union are expected to happen "soon," the council said in a news release, although precisely how soon remained unclear.

The council hailed the agreement as containing the largest negotiated wage increases for Detroit casino workers since the three casinos opened between 1999 and 2000. It calls for immediate 18% pay raises on average, according to the council, as well as no cost increases for health care, workload reductions and other job protections.

The council said it won't publicly disclose full details of what's in the agreement until members have a chance to vote on it.

The workers went out on strike Oct. 17 after an extension to their previous contract expired.

The three casinos have relied on casino managers to stay open. Meanwhile, the unions have urged casino patrons to stay home and not cross their picket lines and not use the casinos' online gambling apps.

"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. “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 went into negotiations seeking significant wage increases that they described as just rewards for workers for making financial and personal sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also contended that work in the Detroit casinos had lost its former status as one of the better-paying service industry jobs.

The casino council previously agreed to 3% in total wage increases from 2020 to 2023 — a period of high inflation — as an extension to a five-year contract that started in 2015. 

Tax revenue from the three casinos is a major source of revenue for the city of Detroit's budget.

The Detroit Casino Council is composed of five unions: UNITE HERE Local 24, UAW, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324 and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.

The casino workers' strike has coincided with the UAW's Stand Up Strike among autoworkers and the ongoing strike by 1,000-plus UAW members employed with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

“A contract of this significance makes me feel proud to work in Detroit’s casinos once again,” Alicia Weaver, a guest room attendant at MGM Casino, said in a statement. “Cleaning hotel rooms is a really tough job that gets tougher every year, so the fixes we made in this contract to reduce my daily workload mean less strain on my body and more energy for my family when I get home from work."