Montreal Casino Workers Could Strike During Grand Prix Weekend

Posted on: June 6, 2023, 07:20h. 

Last updated on: June 6, 2023, 12:20h.

Casinos in Montreal, Canada, could be paralyzed during the Formula 1 Montreal Grand Prix in a few weeks. There is the threat of a strike that could affect several employee segments at various casinos during one of the busiest times for the city’s gaming industry.

The Casino de Montreal at dusk
The Casino de Montreal at dusk. Employees of the casino could strike during the Montreal Grand Prix, one of the busiest times of the year for the property. (Image: Getty Images)

The Montreal Grand Prix doesn’t just attract race fans. It’s an event that attracts up to 132K tourists for three days, many of whom visit the local casinos.

A dispute over wages at the Loto-Québec-owned Montreal Casino, the largest casino in Canada, is reaching a boiling point. The Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN, for its French acronym) is ready to increase the pressure if necessary. It’s also adding support from other venues at the same time.

No More Negotiations

The Canadian Press reports that 91% of the CSN’s members have agreed to participate in a five-day strike, if necessary. Around 1,000 Montreal Casino employees could walk out during the Montreal Grand Prix weekend from June 16-18.

The race weekend is just a possibility for the strike, as the union announced its vote allows it to take action at the most appropriate time. Given the timing, the F1 event would be the most logical option.

The CSN and its members want to increase the pressure on the casino. This includes general service employees like cashiers, slot machine attendants, housekeeping, and other departments, but not all of them. The catering department will also participate, but not the croupiers. They have a separate union contract with the casino after they forced Loto-Quebec into action via a strike last year.

Workers at other casinos could join them. Employees of the Casino du Lac-Leamy have also set up a similar strike authorization, while employees at the Charlevoix and Mont-Tremblant casinos could make a decision this week.

The workers haven’t yet determined whether they will strike for one, two, or three days during the Canadian Grand Prix. It depends on how negotiations advance now that the strike has been approved.

Riccardo Scopelleti, president of the Montreal Casino’s security workers’ unit, is confident the threat of a strike might be enough. As the spokesperson for all nine unions, he said in a statement that Casino Montreal wouldn’t have enough employees to maintain operations if the strike moves forward.

How They Got Here

The employees have been in negotiations over wages since last June and without a contract since March 31 of last year. With the CSN in the province’s four casinos and its online gaming activity, it represents nearly 1,700 different job categories, and has the ability to severely disrupt operations.

The workers want their employers to give them a salary commensurate with the cost of living plus another CA$1 (US$0.75) an hour. In seven meetings between both sides, all since February, there has been no progress, according to Scopelleti.

Loto-Québec denies the accusation that there’s been no progress. It said in a statement that it has presented two “global and generous” compensation packages, and that the “pressure tactics” won’t force its hand.

Those tactics did work in the croupiers’ strike last year, and they have worked well in other places, including Las Vegas and Mississippi. Although Loto-Quebec is a state-run company, it might have to think like a commercial enterprise.