As the labour strike at Caesars Windsor enters its 53rd day, the many issues between the casino and its employees seem irreconcilable, at least for now. After workers rejected a second tentative deal, the two sides have not returned to the bargaining table, which raised concerns among the local tourism and retail businesses. Windsor Mayor offered his assistance to the two camps, but there is little hope for resolving the casino strike any time soon.
The labour disruption at Ontario’s largest casino resort is still underway and last week, more shows and events from the official Caesars Windsor schedule were postponed. In a recent interview, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens admitted that he had contacted both casino management and the union. He offered his assistance in the negotiations between the two sides, although the province had already sent experts to help in the bargaining process. Despite the difficult situation, the city cannot intervene in this conflict and it is up to the union and casino officials to reach an agreement, he added.
Workers at Caesars Windsor walked off the job on April 6 when they rejected the first tentative agreement negotiated between the casino and the union that represents them. The organization, Unifor Local 444, represents approximately 2,300 casino workers but according to Mayor Dilkens, around 500 of them did not take part in the last vote. On Friday, May 18, they had to vote on the new deal but in the afternoon, Unifor announced that only 47.2 percent of the voters were in favour, so the agreement was not ratified. Dilkens adds that the union has its “internal issues” to work through and needs to regroup if it wants the third vote to be successful.
Unionized Workers Disappointed by Low Wages
Caesars Windsor employees are not the only ones who demand higher pay and better working conditions. Earlier this month, the Lear Corporation factory strike stopped the car production at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV assembly plant in Brampton, Ontario. The strike lasted a week, while in March, another strike at Windsor halted the FCA’s minivan production at the ZF-TRW assembly plant for two days. All these labour disruptions were caused by members of Unifor, which has local divisions across the province.
According to Unifor President Jerry Dias, workers are becoming angrier with every day because they see the huge revenues generated by the big corporations, while the wages remain at the same levels for years. Wages, Dias explains, have not kept up with the inflation and the globalization process and as a result, working-class people are frustrated. He adds that the union is now trying to negotiate terms of the workers’ contracts much more aggressively than it had before.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens also said that his major concern right now is the fact that around 2,300 families in Windsor and the area are relying on strike pay. And even more importantly, this continues for 53 days and no end of the strike looms in the near future.