Detroit Casino Workers Rally at Capitol for Minimum Wage Bill Support Amid Strike

Posted on: November 1, 2023, 06:30h. 

Last updated on: November 1, 2023, 03:12h.

More than 300 union members now on strike at Detroit’s casinos held a rally at the Michigan capitol building in Lansing on Tuesday to curry support among legislators.

Casino workers on the steps of the Michigan state capitol
Striking Detroit casino workers on the steps of the Michigan state capitol building, pictured above, are now in the third week of their strike. (Image: WXYZ)

Casino workers advocated for a bill, SB 171, while at the capitol. The bill could lead to a raise in the minimum wage in some Michigan towns and cities. If enacted, it would let local officials increase the minimum wage in their communities to an amount higher than the statewide rate.

Currently, Michigan’s statewide minimum wage is $10.10 an hour.

We’re asking Michigan leaders to join us on the picket line, because the wages we receive absolutely do not keep up with the rising cost of living,” Terri Smith, a table games dealer at Hollywood Casino at Greektown and member of UAW Local 777, said in a union statement.

On October 17, some 3,700 workers at MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino, and Hollywood Casino at Greektown went on strike after their contracts expired. They are seeking higher wages and improved job security.

So far, there’s no word of new statements of support for the union from the state’s political leaders.

Last month, Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, D, told a rally of striking workers in Detroit, including those at the casinos, that he and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) “stand with you. Because everything that every Michigander is thankful for came from a union.”

City Council Solidarity

Tuesday’s trip to Lansing is the second recent visit by striking casino workers to government assemblies.

Last week, the Detroit City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting workers. Approximately 700 union members attended the council meeting. Local officials approved the resolution that said they stand “in solidarity with striking Detroit casino workers.”

The workers are now in the third week of their work stoppage. The union and management reportedly are close to an agreement, according to statements made by striking workers to Michigan radio station WSJM.

The workers are represented by the Detroit Casino Council (DCC), which comprises members from Unite Here Local 24, the UAW, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters. Union members work in food and beverage, housekeeping, retail, slots and table games, and engineering sectors.

The city’s three casinos remain open during the strike. However, some services at the gaming properties are curtailed.

In a statement this week, Hollywood Casino at Greektown told Detroit TV station WXYZ:

We are disappointed by the decision of the Detroit Casino Council as we have made generous, progressive settlement offers that position our team members and business for sustainable success. We will remain open for business to serve our customers and are committed to continued good-faith bargaining with the Detroit Casino Council to resolve the issues at hand as soon as possible.”

In Las Vegas, a strike is possible by Culinary Union members working without a contract. Union members have overwhelmingly authorized a work stoppage in Las Vegas. Some 75 union members and officials were arrested recently after they blocked traffic on the Las Vegas Strip.