Detroit Casino Workers Pave the Way for Possible Strike

Posted on: October 2, 2023, 06:20h. 

Last updated on: October 2, 2023, 01:12h.

Unionized workers at Detroit’s gaming properties overwhelmingly indicated they are ready to walk off the job. On Friday, with 99% of the union members voting, they authorized a strike for later this month.

Hollywood Casino at Greektown
Hollywood Casino at Greektown, pictured above. It’s one of three Detroit casinos where workers have authorized a strike. (Image: WJBK)

A strike could take place as early as October 16. That’s when current contracts expire.

Wage increases, retirement, and protecting workers from the impact of new technology are among the issues raised by the unions in current negotiations.

Workers are represented by the Detroit Casino Council (DCC).  Union officials have pointed out the sacrifices made by workers during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, they want their members to get fair salaries.

The employees work in different positions at MGM Grand Detroit, Hollywood Casino at Greektown, and MotorCity Casino Hotel.

“We’re the people who worked with the companies through COVID and put in the time, energy, hard work,” Terri Sykes, UAW Local 7777 president, said in a statement following the unions’ vote.

The casino companies are making more than their fair share. But we’re not making ours,” Sykes added. “The message our members are sending to these companies is that the casino workers at MGM Grand, MotorCity and Hollywood at Greektown are ready to stand together and fight for what we deserve.”

The prior three-year contract extension, approved in September 2020, only had “minimal wage increases,” the DCC statement said.

Since then, gaming revenues surpassed pre-pandemic levels and reached record highs, the statement added. Detroit casinos received a record $2.27B in revenue last year. Between January and August of this year, revenues are on track for another record year, the DCC predicted.

All Options on Table

Just like auto workers, Blue Cross Blue Shield staff, UPS workers, writers, and hotel workers, Detroit casino workers are considering all options available to make sure one job in a Detroit casino is enough to raise a family on. We expect the casinos to heed our concerns to avoid a strike,” Nia Winston, Unite Here Local 24 president, said in the statement.

The DCC is made up of Unite Here Local 24, the UAW, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.

Members work in food and beverage, housekeeping, retail outlets, slots and table games, and engineering areas.

Las Vegas Vote

The Detroit vote comes just days after members of the Las Vegas-based Culinary and Bartenders Union authorized a strike at Las Vegas’s gaming properties.

That union represents hotel and restaurant workers, bartenders, and other nongaming staff at the major resorts along the Las Vegas Strip. Their contracts with MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn/Encore Resorts expired in June, but were extended through September.

Recently, 95% of Culinary Union members voted to authorize a strike at Las Vegas workplaces if negotiations fail to produce a new contract.

Friday’s vote by Detroit casino workers also comes as some 25K members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) are on strike at plants in Michigan and elsewhere.