“Top Union Leader Backs Striking Workers at Detroit Casino”

Posted on: November 16, 2023, 11:38h. 

Last updated on: November 16, 2023, 11:38h.

As the strike at Detroit’s three casinos enters its second month, the most powerful union leader in the U.S. this week voiced a stern warning to casino owners.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler (center)
AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler (center) stands with striking Detroit casino workers. The strike begins its second month. (Image: Michigan Advance/Ken Coleman)

“It’s time for Detroit casinos to quit gambling with their workers’ livelihoods,” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said while joining workers at MotorCity Casino on Wednesday.

Casinos Unfair, Unethical

“Union casino workers kept this industry alive during the pandemic,” Shuler was quoted by the Michigan Advance. “But despite Detroit casino owners making record profits, they are refusing to take care of their workers. This is unjust, unfair and unethical.”

It is time to pay the workers who keep you in business a living wage, to provide health care that allows workers to care for themselves and their families and to guarantee the job security their employees have earned,” she added.

Workers are represented by the Detroit Casino Council (DCC). The DCC revealed this week that ongoing negotiations are now down to “core economic issues,” the Detroit News reported.

“We are waiting on a response from the employers to our current economic proposal,” the DCC told the News. “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.

Comparisons With Vegas

The DCC also noted how casino companies recently reached a tentative contract with workers in Las Vegas.

“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.”

MGM Grand Detroit spokesperson Jason Barczy said in an email to the News this week, “Negotiations are ongoing and we hope to come to an agreement soon.”

Earlier this month, casino companies offered to reduce health care premiums to $40 from $60 and to increase wages by $1.95/hour during the contract’s first year. The unions want health care premiums kept at zero and wages raised by $3.25/hour for the first year.

The strike began on Oct. 17. Some 3,700 workers at MotorCity, MGM Grand Detroit and Hollywood Casino walked off their jobs. Casinos remain open but some services are curtailed.

Detroit’s three gaming properties saw an aggregate 18.3% monthly decline in revenue during October, when the strike began.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board reported this week that each of the casinos saw declines in revenue during October, ranging from 16.5% to 20.2% compared to September data.

DCC unions include Unite Here Local 24, the United Auto Workers, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.

They include card dealers, cleaning staff, food and beverage workers, valets, engineers, and others.

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