Canada’s biggest casino is feeling the pressure.
Croupiers at Montreal Casino have voted overwhelmingly in favour of pressure tactics, including a possible strike at the Quebec casino. Meanwhile, another of Canada’s largest casinos avoided further labour trouble recently.
The dispute centres around the casino’s refusal to recall 100% of its employees back to work now that the establishment is operational once again.
According to the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the refusal equates to staff dismissals and is a violation of the collective agreement.
“What’s really terrible in this situation is that even if the casino called back 100% of the croupier staff, only 60% of the tables are open,” said CUPE union spokesperson Jean-Pierre Proulx. “We’ve already lost a lot of workers.”
First means of pressure tactics employed at Casino de Montréal
On March 15, the croupiers staged its first series of pressure tactics. Workers showed up to the job wearing union t-shirts.
A day earlier, 97.4% of the employees voted in favour of the tactic.
The union’s main goal is to get all its croupiers who were laid off since the start of Covid-19 recalled to work.
Ultimately, it is believed that if the demands aren’t met, workers could walk off the job.
Proulx is adamant that all tables be reopened at Casino de Montréal.
He says more tables would mean hands on deck. And with that, the government could generate some sorely needed revenue.
Some media reports estimate Loto-Québec has “probably lost hundreds of millions” due to the pandemic.
“State casinos are where gambling is regulated in the safest and most responsible way,” Proulx said. “We must therefore protect them, because they generously fill state coffers.”
Caesars Windsor narrowly avoided worker strike with deal
One province over, another storied Canadian casino also felt the heat from union reps.
Caesars Windsor – Ontario’s longest-running casino – and the union representing its workers, Unifor Local 444, were at odds.
Initially, 94% of workers voted in favour of a possible strike. However, workers ratified a new deal on Sunday with 93% of workers ratifying the new deal.
Pandemic losses and the prolonged closure of Caesars has had a devastating impact on its workers said Unifor Local 444 president, Dave Cassidy.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation owns the casino managed by Caesars.
Cassidy stated the main focus currently is around wages, benefits and job security for its workers.
On Monday in a social media post, Cassidy said:
“Your bargaining committee made significant gains in wages, benefits, pensions, paid time off, a signing bonus and improved contract language that reflects a greater worth in our members in these unprecedented times,” Cassidy wrote.
Future of casinos with Covid-19
With Covid-19 restrictions lifting throughout much of the country, many industries are attempting to return to some sense of normalcy.
Loto-Quebec reopened some of its biggest casinos on Feb. 28 including Casino de Montreal, Charlevoix, Lac-Leamy and more.
Ultimately, however, mid-March is the time period the Quebec government is eyeing. That is when all Covid-19 restrictions are expected to be lifted.
Evidently, it will take some time for many casinos to stabilize the financial losses felt during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, that does not help casino workers.
Many – including those at Caesars Windsor – have remained unemployed throughout the entire pandemic, Cassidy said.
Casino de Montreal is the largest land-based casino in the country at over 526,00 square feet. Meanwhile, Caesars Windsor has been operational for nearly 30 years, opening its doors in 1994.