Employees of several Winnipeg casinos in Manitoba are unhappy with their employer and are ready to go out on strike. Almost all members of Unifor Local 144 who are hired by the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries voted in favour of protesting. These workers are now able to go out on strike if the Crown corporation does not meet their demands for a fair contract.
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries is a state-run agency responsible for providing legalized gambling and distributing liquor and cannabis to retailers in the province of Manitoba. Its gaming operations include operating gaming properties such as Club Regent Casino, McPhillips Station Casino, and Shark Club Casino. It also offers regulated online gambling via PlayNow.com.
Employee Run Out of Patience
On Friday, Unifor Local 144 issued a statement confirming that unionized employees from McPhillips Station Casino, Club Regent Casino and the Shark Club Casino voted in favour of a strike. The union represents over 750 staff members at the sites, including dealers, cashiers, slot attendants, security officers, customer service reps, and trades workers.
In the release, said Unifor’s national president, Lana Payne shared that those workers deserve a strong new collective agreement, not the footdragging and disrespect currently displayed by the employer. She added that the company left the union no choice but to take action and urged them to step up and make a serious offer to the union.
It should be mentioned that workers from the Winnipeg gaming locations have been with no collective agreement since June 2022, and their wages increased by 1.75% in the last six years. Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s western regional director said that employees have run out of patience and claimed a serious offer is needed for the union to return to the discussion table.
This is not the first time casino employees have been disappointed with the Crown corporation, as in 2022, three women who worked at its casino filed discrimination complaints against the employer. Estrella Acido, Anicia Reyes, and Yolanda Bulan said that after gaming locations reopened in the summer of 2021 they were never recalled to work by the company.
The laid-off workers endured some very tough spells during the lockdown as they shared that they had to live on bread and water to survive. Ms. Acido said that she learned about the termination of her position from an HR email from November 2021. And they were offered jobs with lower wages, however, she and the two other cooks refused to accept them.
MBLL Announces New Leader
In the summer of 2023, the Crown agency announced that it had appointed Gerry Sul as President and CEO. He already served as acting President and CEO and the Board was quite pleased with his performance. Board Chair Bonnie Mitchelson said that Mr. Sul was an experienced leader with plenty of expertise in the Crown’s lines of business.
Source: “Some unionized Manitoba casino workers threaten to strike” CBC News, December 2, 2023