Caesars Windsor Strike Over: Casino and Union Reach Three-Year Deal

Posted on: June 5, 2018, 06:20h. 

Last updated on: June 5, 2018, 07:32h.

Caesars Windsor in Ontario, Canada will reopen its doors Thursday morning at 11 am ET, after being closed for more than 60 days, due to a strike by Unifor Local 444 and 2,000 of its members employed at the casino resort.

Caesars Windsor strike union
Caesars Windsor union members who have been off the job since early April return to work this week. (Image: Nick Brancaccio/Windsor Star)

The walkout began on April 5, after union members rejected a new contract proposal from the casino company. The property had no option other than to close all operations, as the union represents about 87 percent of Caesars Windsor’s 2,300-employee workforce.

Over 60 days later, the two sides have finally reached a three-year accord that satisfies all.

“Caesars Windsor is happy to announce the labor disruption has been resolved,” the casino said in a social media post. “We look forward to welcoming back our guests.”

The resort was forced to cancel and reschedule numerous Colosseum shows. Acts that have rescheduled dates include Pitbull (June 23), Blink-182 (September 18), and Brian Wilson (November 25).

Caesars Windsor is the city’s main tourist draw, and provides critical tax revenue to the area’s government. Windsor’s tourism office estimates the city will be out over $1.5 million in lost tax money from the two-month strike.

New Terms Revealed

Neither Unifor nor Caesars revealed specifics about the new three-year contract. But the Windsor Star obtained issued pamphlets to union members regarding the arrangement to inform them of the terms prior to the member-wide union vote.

According to the materials, Caesars Windsor will pay new hires a $1,600 signing bonus.

Current employees will see a general hourly wage increase (GWI) of $0.75 in years one and two, and a $0.25 increase in year three. Based on full-time employment (2,000 hours per year), the GWI bump on average will put $3,500 more money in union members’ pockets over the three-year period.

After union members rejected two earlier proposals from Caesars, Unifor says the latest contract offer received 75 percent member support.

Caesars Entertainment — parent company to the Windsor casino that sits less than a mile from Detroit across the US-Canadian border — also struck a deal this week in Las Vegas with Nevada’s largest union, thus averting a strike at its nine Strip venues.

Detroit Casinos Benefit

The Michigan Gaming Control Board reported that casino revenue at Detroit’s three commercial properties increased 2.5 percent in April, the first month of the Caesars Windsor strike. Data for May has not been released.

Caesars is the only full-fledged casino on the Canadian side of the Detroit River, meaning Canucks looking to gamble over the last two months needed to make the short commute to downtown Detroit.

Gaming observers believe the strike’s duration was long enough to potentially alter loyalty.

“Management (Caesars) should be concerned about some measure of erosion or loss of patron loyalty,” Calderone Advisory Group Managing Director Alex Calderone told the Detroit Free Press.

Unifor President Dave Cassidy said he’s confident that patrons will return to Caesars. “Customers know that Caesars Windsor is the way it is because of our membership. They’re first-class,” Cassidy told the Windsor Star.

“Caesars Windsor is the brand, but our membership is the face. They give the best service. They’re the best in the business,” the union boss concluded.