Casino Woodbine Employees Picket Amidst Stalled Union Negotiations

Written By Matthew Lomon on May 9, 2023
lock and chain

Almost 1,000 employees at Casino Woodbine are unable to access casino grounds after labour discussions with their union fell apart.

The Ontario casino workers, who are represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, have been locked out since 12:01 a.m. on Monday. In response to their employer’s decision, staff members are now picketing outside the gaming facility located at Woodbine Racetrack.

The lockout stems from the union’s decision to vote against One Toronto Gaming’s latest contract offer.

Negotiations between PSAC and Casino Woodbine ongoing

PSAC, the association representing Casino Woodbine personnel, is one of Canada largest labour unions. In this instance, it is responsible for 945 casino workers, ranging from table game dealers, to cleaning staff and cashiers.

However, union contracts for those staff members expired in February. On top of this, One Toronto Gaming (the owner and operator of Casino Woodbine), has rejected additional union demands for part-time workers.

While negotiations proceed, the casino remains open. Currently, temporary staffers are overseeing daily operations.

Part-time disputes at core of disconnect between parties

Once Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto, the state-of-the-art Las Vegas-style gaming facility opens this summer, Casino Woodbine will be no more. In the interim, however, its labour dispute remains unresolved.

Representatives from One Toronto Gaming say the company has agreed to:

  • Increase wages by 16% for both full- and part-time employees
  • Provide a one-time $1,000 bonus to full-time staff
  • Supply a one-time $500 bonus to part-time staff

But union leaders aren’t satisfied with this offer because it’s missing their requisite demand. To reach an agreement, union leaders say One Toronto must also structure part-time work schedules as requested.

“We have 50 per cent of the workforce over here that’s part time and for the longest time the workers have wanted to have at least three days, three shifts per week, in order to maintain their standard of living and the employer is not budging,” said Theo Lagakos, the president of the local PSAC chapter, to CP24.

“They don’t want to guarantee any hours of work. And that’s extremely problematic to people. We feel that these jobs are very precarious in that way.”

According to Casino Woodbine, talks with PSAC progressed late into Sunday night and further improvements were offered, but not taken to members.

Union holds ground amidst lockout

Because the lockout is still in the early stages, any impact it may be having on the casino remains unclear.

That said, Lagakos and his union companions refuse to budge from their present position.

“It’s really up to the employer (when talks resume). They’re the ones who have locked us out,” he said. “They’re the ones that are not coming to the table. So we’re just going to wait out there until they decide to change their mind.”

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Matthew Lomon

Matthew Lomon has been a contributor at Catena Media’s network of regional sites since July 2022. He first broke into covering the legal North American gambling industry with PlayCanada. Since then, Matthew's reporting has extended to PlayMichigan, PlayPennsylvania, and PlayIllinois. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Matthew is an avid (bordering on fanatic) sports fan.

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