The Canadian gambling operator Gateway Casinos & Entertainment is taking two worker unions to court, under the claims that union members have unlawfully gone behind picket lines at the Okanagan-based Lake City casinos of the company.
A notice of civil claim was filed by the casino company in British Columbia’s Supreme Court on September 14th against the BC Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU) and the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Union Local No.401 (UFCW). Apart from the two worker unions, the company has also named John Doe, Jane Doe and “persons unknown” as defendants.
According to the operator’s claims, union members went on strike on June 29th, 2018 and kept continuous picket lines at the four casinos owned and operated by Gateway in the region. The casino company also claims that the workers on strike have blocked the access to the operator’s casino in Penticton, and their behavior to other employees and members of the public was not only abusive but also threatening.
— Vancouver and District Labour Council (@vancouverdlc) October 1, 2018
The union members who took part in the strike are alleged in standing in front of the vehicles trying to get in and out of the casino parking lots and insulted both customers and employees of the venue.
The “sexually harassing and/or insulting” behavior of the workers is not the only claim of Gateway Casinos. According to the notice of civil claim filed by the casino operator to the BC Supreme Court, the strikers have been delaying management employees from reaching the Penticton casino. The gambling operator declared that the unlawful activities have become longer and more severe since the work stoppage began, and especially since September 10th. This was exactly the time when the UFCW started a joint picketing action with the BCGEU.
Union Says Proposed Wage Increase Is Too Small
The above-mentioned actions of the two worker unions’ members resulted in the police being repeatedly called to intervene when vehicles at the parking lot were obstructed. They, however, refused to take action without being presented with an authoritative warning or order.
Back in August, Gateway Casinos won an injunction against the BCGEU regarding the strike actions at its casino in Penticton.
The talks between the casino operator and the worker union aimed at ending the ongoing strike have been continuing for more than three months now. At the end of September, Gateway Casinos sent Thompson Okanagan Communities an open letter in an attempt to bring more clarity about the living wage in the region. The step was taken by the company after the union made claims that its last monetary proposal for a wage increase did not meet what is called “living wage amounts”.
The open letter sent by the operator to the misinformed residents of the region was aimed to make the term “living wage” clearer to them and also to provide more information about the wages of its workers. Gateway claimed that even the wages of the entry-level cashiers who work for them would be larger than the normal living wage and revealed that it had proposed an average increase of 7.5% for the job over the first year. As explained by the operator, the average yearly compensation for the position would amount to more than CA$50,362, tips included.