After talks broke off on Wednesday, negotiations between Caesars Windsor and the striking workers over their new contract have come to a standstill. The casino has rejected an agreement proposed by Unifor Local 444 without giving an alternative, which means that no resolution to the conflict between the two sides is looming in the near future.
Workers at Ontario’s Caesars Windsor casino went on a strike April 6 after they did not agree to the terms of the proposed contract with their employer. As a direct effect of the labour disruption, the casino and hotel resort shut down, cancelling all shows and bookings for April. Last week, Caesars said it would sit on the bargaining table on April 18, which gave employees a hope for reaching a deal. As agreed, the talks between the casino and the bargaining team started on Wednesday, but soon broke off, according to Unifor Local 444 President James Stewart. Unifor is the trade union, representing approximately 2,300 employees of Caesars Windsor.
Company officials rejected the proposal put forward by Unifor only two hours after talks began, Stewart said yesterday. The union prepared this agreement on April 10, but the casino said it would not be prepared to discuss it until Wednesday. Apparently, management was not prepared yesterday, as well, as they rejected it outright without making an alternative proposal. This was announced yesterday by Stewart who added that there were both financial and non-financial issues in the new union proposal. According to him, there was not even an attempt at bargaining on Caesars’ part.
Ontario’s Largest Casino Remains Closed for Nearly 2 Weeks
Caesars Windsor, the largest casino in the Province of Ontario and most probably, the biggest one in Canada, remains closed until further notice. On its website, Caesars announced temporary closure which resulted in postponing Colosseum shows and scheduled events, as well as cancellation of hotel reservations booked for the month of April. Yesterday, the casino said in an emailed statement that officials and the union bargaining committee could not reach “a framework for an agreement”.
Caesars also expresses disappointment that the tentative agreement was not ratified by workers at the beginning of the month. In a vote, more than half of the casino employees rejected the terms of the deal. It included a 9 per cent increase in wages, higher pensions, as well as a signing bonus. However, these were apparently not satisfactory for workers, who said that there were also non-financial issues that needed to be discussed. In addition, pay raises were too modest for them, especially considering that Ontario’s government increased the minimum wage in January. The new offer made by the union addresses these issues and includes a change of the terms of the collective contract, which is seen as an improvement by Unifor.
Unifor Local 444’s James Stewart commented the standstill yesterday, saying that Caesars is not interested in any of the proposals made by the union members. He admitted he was uncertain about the next steps, as the casino seems unwilling to respect its employees’ most important demands.