More than a month after workers at the Caesars Windsor hit the picket line, there is hope for resolving the strike that shut down the largest casino in Ontario. In a tweet, Unifor Local 444, the union representing around 2,300 striking workers, said that they would be heading back to the bargaining table next Tuesday.
According to the union’s social media post, Caesars Windsor management has contacted Unifor and showed a willingness to resume the negotiations. The two sides, that have not been in touch since talks broke off on April 18, would be sitting down to discuss proposals and, hopefully, reach a deal over the new terms of employees’ collective agreement. The strike was announced April 6 following a vote in which 59 per cent of the workers rejected the tentative agreement negotiated between the casino management and the labour union at the time.
Now, over a month after workers walked off the job, the casino resort remains closed. Earlier this week, Caesars Windsor announced on its website that it would be postponing shows and cancelling hotel reservations until the end of the month due to the labour disruption. Three highly anticipated shows were postponed without new dates to be scheduled – Pitbull on May 25, Lee Brice on May 26, and Daniel O’Donnell on May 27. In response, Unifor Local 444 held a rally on Tuesday to demonstrate workers’ determination and the great support they receive from people.
The labour union believes that the major issues to be discussed are wages, pensions and time off. It says that a conciliator will also be present at the talks set for Tuesday, May 15. Previously, Unifor’s bargaining team proposed their version of an agreement to the casino, but it was rejected by Caesars Windsor officials almost immediately. The union has later said multiple times that the casino is not willing to make compromises and to negotiate, which shows lack of responsibility and respect for workers’ demands.
Union: Shaking the Trees Works
Unifor Local 444’ interim president James Stewart stepped down from his position and after nominations earlier this week revealed the only candidate was Dave Cassidy, he was chosen as the new president of the union. On Tuesday he joined Stewart at a rally the union held for the striking workers and addressed the crowd, saying that it might be time for Casino Regional President Kevin Laforet to step down. Cassidy also urged the Mayor of Windsor, Drew Dilkens, and the provincial government to help resolve the dispute.
Late Thursday, following the union’s tweet, Cassidy said that shaking the trees had apparently worked, referring to Tuesday’s rally and the media attention. Indeed, the casino strike was discussed at the Ontario’s legislature on Tuesday when Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield asked the provincial government to intervene. Mayor Drew Dilkens also said that he was ready to help with anything he can in the talks, although the union, he admitted, had not reached out to him. Meanwhile, workers are not on their jobs and the largest casino and hotel resort in the Province of Ontario is closed.