Update: Ontario Casino Strike Averted In All But Two Locations

Written By Jose Colorado on July 19, 2022 - Last Updated on July 23, 2022
Eight Ontario casinos poised to strile if deal not reached by Friday. Image Description. Rear view of people with placards and posters on global strike

Employees at a half-a-dozen Ontario casinos signed a tentative agreement in the early hours of Saturday morning averting a strike at all but two locations.

Unifor Local 1090, the largest private sector union in Canada, represents the casino staffers. A strike would have impacted 1,830 workers.

Global News reported Saturday morning that signed agreements include the following casinos:

  • Great Blue Heron Casino in Port Perry
  • Casino Woodbine in Etobicoke
  • Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands in Ganaoque
  • Shorelines Casino Peterborough
  • Elements Casino Mohawk in Milton
  • Elements Casino Brantford

However, the union says workers at Durham Region’s Pickering Casino Resort and Casino Ajax are on strike. Committees continue to negotiate to resolve the issues at those two locations.

Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC), which owns and operates the casinos, reported in a press release on Thursday that most secondary issues had been resolved prior to the strike deadline at midnight, but the most challenging negotiations were still on the table.

Lana Payne, Unifor’s national secretary-treasurer, said:

“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. The momentum is a positive sign but we’re not out of the woods. We anticipate talks will go down to the wire tonight.”

Unifor: Ontario casino employers have recovered

Casinos across Canada – not just Ontario – struggled mightily during COVID-19. Many closed. And some were temporarily shuttered, while others shut down permanently.

Payne said via a statement that it’s time for casinos to adapt following the pandemic:

“Casino employers have bounced back following the pandemic-related closures. Our goal at the bargaining table is to share some of those gains with the workers who make casinos successful.”

But, Unifor is saying that is in the past – at least for workers at the eight Ontario casinos that negotiated on behalf of up to the deadline.

Focus on Ontario casino wages, benefits, pensions, full-time hours

Bargaining teams prioritized wages, benefits, and pensions. And converting part-time or “casual” jobs into stable, full-time positions.

The agreement impacts Unifor members in multiple positions, including:

  • Table games
  • Slots
  • Security
  • Cashiering
  • Food and beverage
  • Kitchen and culinary
  • Guest services
  • Housekeeping
  • Maintenance

Corey Dalton, president of Unifor Local 1090, said in the end, all the demands will benefit the businesses.

“We value our customers and the relationships we’ve built with guests over the years… Good wages and benefits translate directly into job satisfaction and that’s good for business.”

Workers at Elements Casino Brantford, Mohawk impacted too

Unifor represents 315,000 workers across various sectors throughout Canada. When it comes to the casino industry, they represent 1,500 gaming employees at the six locations mentioned above.

Beyond that, Unifor Local 252 represents 30 security workers at Elements Casino Mohawk. And, Unifor Local 504 is responsible for 300 workers at Elements Casino Brantford.

GCGC was acquired by Apollo Global Management Inc. in 2021.

Great Blue Heron Casino, Pickering Casino Resort in spotlight

Of all the casinos impacted by the potential strike, the Great Blue Heron and the Pickering Casino Resort have the most at stake.

The pair are already at the centre of a highly publicized dispute between the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) and Ontario’s government.

MSIFN owns the Great Blue Heron.

According to the Nation, a previous government agreement required the province to consult with MSIFN before opening any casinos near GBH. Despite that, Pickering Casino Resort opened its doors on July 26, 2021 – roughly 50km away from GBH.

That case is bound for meditation.

No word, yet, whether that issue was the sticking point at the Pickering casino where workers were striking as of Saturday morning.

Photo by Shutterstock
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