Striking Detroit Casino Workers Get Encouragement from AFL-CIO President

Posted on: November 16, 2023, 11:38h. 

Last updated on: November 17, 2023, 02:35h.

As the strike at Detroit’s three casinos enters its second month, the most powerful union leader in the U.S. has voiced a stern warning to casino owners.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler (center)
AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler (center) stands with striking Detroit casino workers. The strike begins its second month. (Image: Michigan Advance/Ken Coleman)

“It’s time for Detroit casinos to quit gambling with their workers’ livelihoods,” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said while joining workers at MotorCity Casino on Wednesday.

Schuler explained that union workers kept the gambling industry alive during the pandemic and, while Michigan casinos make record profits, they are “refusing to take care of their workers.” Schuler called that unethical, unjust and unfair, in an interview with Michigan Advance.

Workers are represented by the Detroit Casino Council (DCC). The DCC said this week that ongoing negotiations are now down to “core economic issues,” the Detroit News reported.

“It’s absurd that Detroit’s profitable casino industry is forcing workers to stay out in the cold to protect their health care and achieve decent raises,” the DCC told the News this week.

Casino companies have recently reached a tentative contract with workers in Las Vegas, according to the DCC.

“We’re dealing with some of the same players here. So why should Detroit be treated any differently? It’s time for Detroit’s casinos to give the people of Detroit the respect we are due.”

Negotiations Continue

Casino companies offered to reduce health care premiums to $40 from $60 and to increase wages by $1.95/hour during the contract’s first year during negotiations earlier this month. The unions are asking for health care premiums to be kept at zero and wages raised by $3.25/hour for the first year.

But so far, the sides have not come to an agreement.

Negotiations are ongoing and we hope to come to an agreement soon,” MGM Grand Detroit spokesperson Jason Barczy said in an email to the News this week.

The strike began on October 17. Some 3,700 workers at MotorCity, MGM Grand Detroit, and Hollywood Casino walked out. Casinos remain open, but some services are curtailed.

Casinos See Revenue Decline

Detroit’s three gaming properties saw an aggregate 18.3% monthly decline in revenue in October when the strike began.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board reported this week that each of the casinos saw declines in revenue during October, ranging from 16.5% to 20.2%, compared to September data.

DCC unions include Unite Here Local 24, the United Auto Workers, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.

They include card dealers, cleaning staff, food and beverage workers, valets, and engineers.