Detroit Casino Workers Voting on Strike Authorization for When Contracts Expire

Posted on: September 29, 2023, 02:18h. 

Last updated on: September 29, 2023, 02:33h.

Workers at Detroit’s three casinos are voting Friday on whether to authorize strikes when their contracts expire next month.

UAW members picket
UAW members picket an auto plant, pictured above. Casino workers in Detroit are considering whether they will authorize a strike, too. (Image: PBS)

Voting will be completed by 9 p.m., and the votes will be counted Friday night.

The unionized employees work at MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino Hotel, and Hollywood Casino at Greektown. They include those who work on gaming floors, as well as in restaurants, bars, stores, and hotels.

Negotiations between the unions and the casinos began a few weeks ago. The unions are seeking higher wages for members due to the higher cost of living.

The bargaining units at the gaming properties are represented by the Detroit Casino Council (DCC). The leadership points to prior sacrifices made by workers.

Following COVID shutdowns, Detroit casino workers sacrificed raises and shouldered heavier workloads so the industry could recover,” the DCC explained in a recent statement. “Now, workers are struggling to make ends meet, even as the industry generates all-time record high gaming revenues from in-person and online gaming.”

If an agreement isn’t reached soon, the DCC could authorize a strike beginning as early as mid-October, which is when current contracts expire.

The DCC is made up of five unions that represent workers at the three casinos: Unite Here Local 24, the UAW, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.

Las Vegas Vote

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

Workers brought every single one of these companies through the pandemic and into a great recovery, and workers deserve a fair share,” Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union, said in a statement.

“Companies are doing extremely well and we are demanding that workers aren’t left behind.”

UAW Strike

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

That number represents about 17% of the union’s 146K members.