Caesars Windsor Closes Amid Strike, Detroit Casinos Rejoice

Posted on: April 9, 2018, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: April 9, 2018, 09:44h.

Caesars Windsor has temporarily shut its doors after workers walked off the job at 12:01 am Friday morning.

Caesars Windsor strike Detroit casinos
A strike at Caesars Windsor could be beneficial to Detroit’s three casinos, Greektown, MGM Grand, and MotorCity. (Image: Windsor Rite)

Members of the Local 444 Unifor union in Canada rejected a new contract proposed by employer Caesars Entertainment last Thursday by a vote of 59 percent to 41 percent. After union officials said they unsuccessfully reached out to Caesars management to welcome them back to the bargaining table, Local 444 Unifor announced they would go on strike Friday.

In a Facebook post, Caesars Windsor told guests that hotel reservations between April 6 and April 12 have been canceled. A weekend concert by country artist Johnny Reid was postponed, and gaming operations have been shuttered “due to the labor disruption.”

Local 444 says there’s been no discussion among Caesars and the union to settle their differences.

“At this time, there is no intent from Caesars to return to the bargaining table. We have been working on putting together the issues raised at the ratification meetings and will soon be pushing the management of Caesars to listen to these demands,” the union said in a statement.

Agree to Disagree

The most recent arrangement agreed upon by Windsor Caesars management and Local 444 officials included higher signing bonuses for new employees, increased wages, and better pension pay.

Union members, however, didn’t go for the plan.

“I think there’s a lot they liked in the collective agreement,” Union Local 444 President James Stewart told the Windsor Star. “But ultimately there is a lot of anger, disrespect they feel they’ve got from the employer over a period of time. At the outset they were clear that the expectations were high.”

The tentative agreement called for a $0.75 per hour increase effective this week. Additional 50 cent increases would have been implemented in April 2019 and April 2020.

Pension compensation would have increased one percent. New full-time employees would have received a $1,150 signing bonus, and part-timers would have collected $900 after fulfilling a certain number of hours.

The union represents about 1,900 of Caesars Windsor’s 2,300 employees.

Detroit Win

Caesars Windsor is just across the Detroit River in Canada. Its closure might mean more business will come to Motor City’s three commercial casino resorts.

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) has flattened at Detroit’s three properties, which opened their doors around the turn of the century. Ohio legalizing gambling in 2012 poached business away from the Michigan floors.

The Detroit casinos suffered three consecutive annual GGR decreases between 2012 and 2014. They’ve since stabilized, posting yearly casino win of $1.376 billion in 2015, $1.385 billion in 2016, and $1.4 billion last year.

The temporary closure of Caesars Windsor, the only casino on the Canadian side of the Detroit River, means area Canucks will need to make the short commute to Michigan’s largest city to gamble in the interim.

Should the Canadian casino remain closed for an extended period, and Canadian gamblers who traditionally frequent Caesars Windsor begin patronizing Detroit casinos, it could have lasting consequences.

“Loyalty is very important. That’s why you have all these fancy point systems,” Lansing-based gaming consultant Jacob Miklojcik told the Detroit Free Press this week. “If people who prefer Windsor start testing other place places … it could have an effect.”