After Casino Woodbine locked out nearly 1,000 of its employees as of May 8, 2023, picket lines in front of the casino are still going strong. The Public Services Alliance of Canada members have been joined by supporters who back their protest. Locked-out staff are hopeful to negotiate an improved collective agreement with guaranteed part-time hours, more full-time jobs, and more.
At the end of April 2023, the casino applied for a “No Board Report” with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, which allowed it to lock out staff legally. The employer claimed that it has been in discussions with the Public Services Alliance of Canada to find an agreement on a new collective contract that offers the desired benefits.
The Tentative Agreement was Rejected
In a recent statement, Casino Woodbine said that on April 27, 2023, it found an agreement with PSAC’s bargaining committee on a deal that featured a 16% increase in wages over the next four years. It also included market adjustment in payment for certain roles, a signing bonus of CA$1,000 for full-time members and CA$500 for part-time ones, and a substantial improvement in benefits.
Management of the property noted that the tentative agreement came with a wage increase 30% higher than those agreed by the union’s bargaining unit with the federal government at a similar income level to members. However, after two days of voting at the start of May, workers opted to reject the contract. After that the casino claims to have offered further advancement which has not been offered to the membership.
Furthermore, the casino officials said that the gaming property continues work as slot machines are open 24/7, as well as table games and live and simulcasting racing at the nearby racetrack. It assured that it is committed to discussions with PSAC to get its members back to work while also providing a premium guest experience during the labour disruption.
Currently, 945 members of the union work at the casino as table dealers, cashiers and cleaning staff. Picket lines began on May 8, 2023, with individuals who are not employed by the gaming amenity also joining the initiative to demonstrate solidarity. The casino filed for conciliation on March 22, 2023, and after a day in conciliation on April 5, 2023, it applied for a No Board Report.
After the start of the picket lines in front of the casino earlier in May 2023, Theo Lagakos, who is the local President for PSAC elaborated that one of the main reasons for the lack of agreement from concerns over part-time workers’ rights. He explained for quite a while, workers have sought to have at least three days, three shifts per week, as a way of maintaining a standard of living.
Casino Involved in Controversy
Recently, the Ontario Provincial Police reported that it has arrested a card dealer from Casino Woodbine who has allegedly been colluding with gamblers. The detained was 52-year-old Arthur Segovia who has now been charged with criminal breach of trust, cheat at play, theft over CA$5,000 and fraud over CA$5,000. Four others were also arrested who also face legal penalties.
Source: McGoldrick, Hayley “Members show solidarity on picket line outside of Casino Woodbine” City News Everywhere, May 20, 2023