The Mayor of Windsor, Drew Dilkens, and the government of Ontario should help resolve the disagreement between Caesars Windsor and its employees that led to the month-long strike at the casino, according to representatives of the labour union Unifor Local 444. On Tuesday, workers held a rally in response to Caesars’ announcement this week for cancellation of hotel reservations and concerts for the rest of May.
It seems the conflict between workers and the casino in the City of Windsor, Ontario, is gradually intensifying after employees walked off their jobs on April 6. While the strike continues for over a month now, the two sides remain divided over wages and time off, although workers’ representatives from Unifor Local 444 say they have been trying to reach out to the casino. During the rally on Tuesday, the union’s president James Stewart said that they had contacted Caesars Windsor last week, asking them to return to the bargaining table. Casino officials remained silent, Stewart continues, adding that their response came on Monday when in a statement on its website, the casino operator announced that all Colosseum shows for the month of May have been postponed indefinitely.
In its announcement, the casino does not comment the strike and instead, it informs its customers that the resort is still temporarily closed due to labour disruption. All room reservations booked until the end of May have been cancelled and all concerts scheduled until the end of the month have been postponed. Stewart urges the government of Ontario to step in and help resolve the crisis. Although Caesars Entertainment manages and operates the casino in Windsor, the provincial government is its actual owner through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. According to Stewart, the owner should force the company to resume negotiations which stopped on April 18, after Caesars officials walked off the bargaining table.
The head of the local chapter of the union pointed out that neither he nor the striking workers want to be on strike – they simply want the casino to respect their demands. Stewart is now stepping down from his position and becoming a secretary-treasurer in the regional office. The new president was approved on Tuesday and it would be Dave Cassidy, the former secretary-treasurer for Unifor Local 444. He seems to be as vocal to the issues of Caesars Windsors’ workers as Stewart. He addressed the people during the rally, saying that the Mayor of Windsor should also be involved in the negotiations and help resolve the conflict. According to Cassidy, Mayor Drew Dilkens has the ability to “put some pressure” on the company on resuming the talks. He also said that it might be time for Casino Regional President Kevin Laforet to step down if negotiations do not start soon.
Is Caesars Windsor Strike Taking Its Toll on Ontario’s Finances?
Windsor’s Mayor Dilkens later spoke to reporters and explained that the casino resort is the most important asset for the regional tourism. According to him, the strike that resulted in the closure of Caesars Windsor has already affected not only workers but also had a negative impact on many other businesses and on the city in general. He explains that it is the provincial government and not city officials who need to intervene in this complex case but he says he would be happy to help if both sides agree on his involvement. However, he has not been contacted by Unifor Local 444 while he has been in regular communication with casino management, he also says.
During Question Period at the Ontario legislature Tuesday, Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield asked the Liberal government to intervene and end the dispute. The prolonged strike has already led to serious financial consequences to the province, he believes, saying that Ontario’s economy has lost millions of dollars. Labour Minister Kevin Flynn answered by assuring that the government has sent some of its best mediators to take part in the talks.