The labour union representing around 2,300 casino workers in Windsor, Ontario, announced it has reached a new deal with Caesars Windsor and would hold a ratification vote on Monday. After 60 days of labour disruption and two rejected tentative agreements, hopes for ending the longest strike at the casino resort are high.
Caesars Windsor, the largest casino and hotel complex in the Province of Ontario, has been closed since April 6, when workers announced strike action. The labour dispute between them and casino management has been over the terms of their new collective contracts with issues such as wages and working conditions cited as the major stumbling blocks to the two sides. Last week, Unifor Local 444, which represents more than 2,000 workers, started exploratory talks with the casino with the help of a provincial mediator. Although they said no actual negotiations would take place, they managed to reach an agreement Saturday evening.
On Monday, striking Caesars Windsor workers will vote on a tentative agreement for the third time after they rejected the previous two deals. The first vote was held April 5 and then, 59 per cent of the people turned down the proposal. Then, on May 18, 53 per cent of voters rejected the agreement for the second time. No details have been shared publicly on the new deal, reached over the weekend, but workers are hoping for improved wages, benefits and working conditions. The City of Windsor, on the other hand, hopes that the casino strike could finally come to an end this week.
Since workers walked off their jobs in early April, Caesars Windsor has not been operational, with all hotel reservations cancelled and all Colosseum shows postponed. And while the closure is certainly harming the casino revenues and costing a lot of money to the striking employees, it is also taking its toll on the local economy, as well. Several tourism execs have pointed out that the postponed concerts, conventions and other events that were supposed to be hosted by the casino resort led to a retreat of visitors who had their vacation plans ruined. In addition, Caesars Windsor is seen as one of the largest tourist attractions in the region and without it, many people simply skip Windsor overall.
Extra Efforts to Find a Solution
Following the failure of negotiations between the two sides in this conflict, Unifor National’s president Jerry Dias arrived in Windsor last week for the exploratory talks with the casino. He was confident that the bargaining teams would eventually find a solution, with or without a provincial mediator to act as a third party. Kevin Laforet, Caesars Windsor regional president, was also present for the talks but he did not comment on his expectations.
Dias told reporters that the strike lasted too long and that union members already wanted to go back to their jobs. Their disappointment, however, was perfectly understandable. According to him, their wages have been “suppressed” for years due to the conditions in the Canadian economy. He said that he would be speaking with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), as well, because although Caesars operates the casino, the actual owner is the OLG. Unifor, he added, was doing everything in its power to find a solution.
While the exploratory talks between the two camps were taking place last week, the union also held round-table discussions for its members. It said it would try to bring in people together, so they can exchange opinions and ideas regarding the terms of the new collective contracts. With the Monday vote at 10.00 a.m. at the Ciociaro Club, the union hopes to put an end to the strike, so that people can finally return to their jobs.