Strike looms as Ontario casino workers’ contract talks head ‘down to the wire’: Unifor

Strike looms as Ontario casino workers’ contract talks head ‘down to the wire’: Unifor

The union representing more than 2,000 casino workers in Ontario say contract negotiations are coming “down to the wire” as a deadline to strike looms Friday night.

In a release on Friday afternoon, Unifor says most secondary issues were resolved during “productive” contract negotiations with the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation on Thursday, however, the “most challenging negotiations” continue Friday.

Key issues remaining are wages, benefits, and pensions. Unifor negotiators say they are also trying to reduce the company’s reliance on precarious part-time jobs and create full-time positions.

More than 1,500 staff at six casinos are scheduled to walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. Hitting the picket line would be staff for table games and slots, security, cashiering, food and beverage, kitchen and culinary, guest services, housekeeping, and maintenance at the following casinos:

  • Great Blue Heron Casino in Port Perry
  • Casino Woodbine in Etobicoke
  • Pickering Casino Resort
  • Casino Ajax
  • Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands in Gananoque
  • Shorelines Casino Peterborough — which has 92 unionized employees

Two other casinos — Elements Casino Mohawk in Milton and Elements Casino Brantford — could serve a strike notice during the next two weeks involving 30 security workers at Mohawk and 300 workers at the Brantford site. Unifor notes their collective agreements expire in the fall 2002 and spring 2023, respectively.

“Unifor bargaining committees for eight casinos worked hard on Thursday to finalize many outstanding issues, paving the way for today’s heavy-lifting on monetary matters,” stated Lana Payne, Unifor Secretary-Treasurer. “The momentum is a positive sign but we’re not out of the woods. We anticipate talks will go down to the wire tonight.”

In an email to Global News on Friday, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation reiterated Thursday’s message that “contingency plans” are in place in the event of strike action to “to minimize disruption and continue operations for our guests.” The company did not detail what the plans may entail.

“We will be disclosing what will be staying open at each site should there be labour action as of midnight tonight at that point in time,” the company stated.

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A picket line was started last week at the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation owned Casino Woodbine after negotiations with Unifor broke down.

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A potential union strike could be unfolding in Ontario as @UniforTheUnion members at eight Great Canadian Gaming Corporation casinos have threatened action.

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Tentative agreements have been reached by Unifor and Great Canadian Gaming Corporation to prevent potential strikes.