Industry Reports

Caesars Windsor Preps for Prolonged Strike with More Shows and Hotel Reservations Cancelled

As the strike at Ontario’s Caesars Windsor continues, the casino resort announced that several Colosseum shows scheduled for May have been postponed. In addition, hotel reservations booked between now and May 19 have been cancelled, which indicates that the casino does not expect an agreement with the striking workers to be reached any time soon.

Around 2,300 employees at Caesars Windsor walked off the job in the early hours on April 6 after they did not approve of the proposed collective agreement with the employer. Soon after strike action was announced, the casino and hotel resort located in Windsor, Ontario, was forced to close. As a result, hotel guests were moved to alternative lodgings and room reservations for the month of April were cancelled. Shows at the resort’s 5,000-seat theatre, The Colosseum, were postponed. Of course, all other special events and promotions were immediately cancelled. Last week, representatives of the casino met with the workers’ bargaining team, but no agreement could be reached. Caesars rejected the proposed contract but did not present an alternative framework for a new agreement.

On Tuesday, April 24, the casino announced on its website more cancelled shows and events. According to the official statement, room reservations booked until April 19 have been cancelled and all hotel guests who have been affected by the labour disruption, as Caesars call the strike and the resort closure, will be notified by phone or email. The Total Rewards Property Promotions for the month of May have been postponed and can be rescheduled for future dates. Several more Colosseum shows have also been postponed, including performances by Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson (on May 4) and illusionist Darcy Oake (on May 17). For now, the other shows for May remain scheduled on their original dates, the statement says. These include Pitbull (May 25), Lee Brice (May 26) and Daniel O’Donnell (May 27).

Is Casino Management Willing to Negotiate?

In the April 5 vote, Caesars Windsor workers rejected the tentative agreement negotiated between the casino and Unifor’s bargaining team. Unifor Local 444 is the labour union representing the approximately 2,300 Caesars Windsor employees who hit the picket line and closed Ontario’s biggest casino resort on April 6. Since then, union members say they are trying to reach out to Caesars management and make a deal that would be mutually beneficial. However, the casino is not even attempting to bargain, Unifor Local 444 President James Stewart said last week.

On Sunday, around a thousand people rallied in front of the closed hotel and on Tuesday, the union organized a trip to the legislature at Queen’s Park. Many of the striking workers were transported by a bus in order to express their determination to work – but under certain conditions such as higher wages and acceptable work environment. Manuel Cardoso, 1st vice-president of Unifor Local 444, said that Caesars is now trying to force people to get back to work, even if their demands are not met. He added that the casino was trying to “starve them out”.

Meanwhile, Lisa Gretzky, Ontario NDP MPP for Windsor West, says that Caesars’ decision to cancel room reservations and concerts for May shows one thing – that casino officials are not willing to negotiate. She pointed out that the provincial government should take steps and force Caesars Windsor to return to the bargaining table. In an immediate response, Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn explained that Gretzky should not call for governmental interference as such issues are usually solved by the two sides. He reminded her that the province had one of “the best dispute resolutions records in North America”. Nevertheless, an arbitrator has been sent to help with the negotiations.