In an effort to end the strike that effectively closed Caesars Windsor, casino management has reached out to the picketing employees saying that they would be ready for negotiations on April 18. Workers rallied in front of Caesars on Tuesday, with another rally scheduled for Sunday in case no agreement is reached.
Around 2,300 workers of Caesars Windsor, one of the four casino resorts in the Detroit-Windsor area, have been on strike since April 6. All hotel reservations were cancelled, guests displaced, and all operations in the casino were stopped after 59 per cent of employees voted against the collective contract proposed by Caesars. Last week, Unifor Local 444, the union representing the workers, said that the casino had finally contacted them. Although the union presented an agreement on April 10, Caesars said they would be ready to sit on the bargaining table no earlier than Wednesday, April 18.
Although negotiations are set to resume today, the labour union does not expect a quick and easy resolution to the disagreement between the casino and its workers. Unifor Local 444 President James Stewart said that within the first days of the strike, Caesars did not even want to sit on the bargaining table. Eventually, they did, as employees remained determined to not return to work unless their demands are met. The two sides have not been able to find common ground for over two months during which a bargaining team from the union has met multiple times with the casino to discuss the terms of the new collective agreement that should have been signed by April 4.
On Wednesday, workers held an improvised rally in front of Caesars Windsor, holding Unifor banners and strike signs. They collected canned goods for the Unemployed Help Centre, a community-based agency which offers emergency food assistance and helps the unemployed with education and job search. James Stewart said that both striking employees and their representatives are prepared for lengthy talks and with little hope for a quick solution, they are planning another rally on Sunday together with Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
Recording-Breaking Revenues for Competitors across the Border
While Ontario’s largest casino remains non-operational indefinitely, its competition in the province and south of the border is experiencing a boost in the business. Last week, Gateway Casinos and Entertainment, which operates several facilities in Ontario, said that increased traffic had been noticed in its casinos in Point Edward and Dresden. However, due to the strategic location of Caesars Windsor, traditionally, it has been popular among tourists and casino players from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and other states in the American Midwest. The casino resort sits on Windsor’s riverfront on one side of the tunnel between Canada and the United States.
Across the river, Detroit is home to three large casinos that were developed in response to Ontario’s booming gambling market two decades ago. And many experts predict that the strike at Caesars Windsor will have a huge impact on the industry on this side of the Detroit River. Last week, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) announced that Detroit’s three casinos had generated an aggregate revenue of $138.6 million during March. The record-breaking figures were driven by record sales for MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino Hotel, according to the MGCB report.
In March, MGM reported revenue of $58.1 million, an increase of 7,3 per cent year-over-year. The YOY growth of 9,3 per cent was even more impressive for MotorCity Casino Hotel, which generated $49.3 million in revenues last month. The third facility, Greektown Casino-Hotel, reported a slight decline from the same period last year and its revenue was $31.2 million in March (down 2,3%). Moreover, casinos in Ohio also reported higher revenues. The trend is expected to continue throughout April due to the ongoing strike at Caesars Windsor.