Industry Reports

Hundreds Rally to Support Caesars Windsor Workers

The strike at Caesars Windsor continues for 17 days, while the conflict between casino management and employees shows no signs of abating. On Sunday, hundreds of people rallied in front of the shuttered hotel and casino resort in Windsor, Ontario, to demonstrate their support for the workers.

The rally Sunday morning was the biggest demonstration since Caesars Windsor workers hit the picket line on April 6 after they rejected a proposal for a new collective contract. Around 2,300 employees of the casino, including dealers, guest room attendants, servers, cooks and janitors, who are on strike, are being represented by Unifor Local 444, the local division of the Canadian general trade union Unifor. Hundreds of workers, as well as many other people supporting the strike, showed in front of the hotel and shut down Chatham Street East. Among those who addressed the crowds were local union leader James Stewart, Unifor’s president Jerry Dias, and Bob Orr, the union’s national secretary-treasurer.

Stewart said that without the workers, Caesars Windsor essentially cannot operate and that casino officials need to return to the bargaining table. Jerry Dias also pointed out the importance of employees, saying that the resort would not see “a penny of profit” without their every-day efforts, hard work, and dedication. According to him, the casino and gambling industry is making millions of dollars and it is not fair that most of the employees at these facilities earn minimum wage or just slightly above. He added that Unifor is preparing to negotiate with five other Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) facilities in the near future.

17 Days of Strike Action at Caesars Windsor

The rally which gathered around a thousand people on Sunday comes after more than two weeks of a strike and full closure of operations at Caesars Windsor. On April 6, the resort cancelled all hotel reservations and postponed all shows and events after workers walked off the job early in the morning. Last week, Unifor’s bargaining team met briefly with casino representatives and presented them with a proposal for a new collective agreement with the workers. On its official website, the casino said in a statement that the two sides had met but could not reach a deal.

This is the fourth strike in past 23 years for Caesars Windsor, which according to Unifor leader Jerry Dias shows that the casino management is not able to take responsibility and does not have any respect for its workers. The last time the casino closed was in 2004 when the strike continued for six weeks and was believed to have resulted in a decline in revenues. However, Caesars Entertainment Corporation does not post the annual financial results of each of its casinos.

Instead, it publishes revenues for the separate segments, so it is extremely difficult to predict how exactly Caesars Windsor closure would affect its financial performance for the second quarter of 2018. One thing is certain – that revenues will definitely go down as a result of the cancelled operations. If the strike continues, many of its competitors, both across Ontario and in Detroit, would probably see an increased influx of visitors, higher gaming and non-gaming revenue.