Detroit Casino Workers Strike Vote Imminent

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Workers at Detroit’s three major casinos—MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino, and Hollywood at Greektown— are preparing to vote on a potential strike authorization.

The move is the result of a deadlock between casino management and staff at the three Michigan casino venues. Workers seek wage increases that align with the rising cost of living, and the workers’ union highlights the U.S. casino business’ record-high gaming revenues in 2023 as justification.

Staff on gaming floors, resteraunts and bars, retail outlets, cleaners, and at hotels are all prepared to walk out, says the Detroit Casino Council.

The Union also pointed at the concessions made by Detroit casino workers during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.

“Following COVID shutdowns, Detroit casino workers sacrificed raises and shouldered heavier workloads so the industry could recover. Now, workers are struggling to make ends meet, even as the industry generates all-time record high gaming revenues,” said a DCC statement.

The news comes as workers at dozens of famous Nevada casino venues in Las Vegas voted for a strike, with up to 60,000 employees set to walk out. In Detroit, more than 18,000 United Auto Workers union members are on strike from the city’s famous car manufacturing plants. That includes workers at large city employers like General Motors and Chrysler.

Three-Year Extension

If the strike is authorized following the vote, the DCC’s negotiating committee may call for strikes as early as mid-October, coinciding with the expiration of the current contracts. The DCC supports five local unions representing workers across Detroit’s three casinos.

The workers are currently on a three-year extension of the same contract they had in 2020. The unions say this is not good enough, and they want better terms on the next deal.

Between the three Detroit casinos and Michigan online casinos, operators make around $300 million in revenues a month. In August, the online gambling sector, including Michigan online sports betting, made $176 million in revenues. In June 2023, the state’s three casinos made $101 million and paid $20.3 million in taxes.

If strikes do go ahead, they will join a fall period of disruption for Detroit residents and workers.

However, earlier this year, a similar contract dispute at Massachusetts’ Encore Boston Harbor ended in the Wynn Resorts casino narrowly avoiding a 1,400-strong strike when an agreement was reached at the last minute.

Broader Labor Movement Context

This potential strike in Detroit is reflective of a broader trend, wherein labor unions are leveraging the current low unemployment rate to push for better compensation and improved working conditions.

Notably, approximately 18,300 members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union employed by Detroit’s three automakers are already on strike.

This has led to the closure of one assembly plant for each automaker, and the shutdown of 38 parts distribution centers at General Motors and Stellantis.

In Las Vegas, the long-standing Culinary Union recently voted a 60,000-strong strike across Las Vegas’ famous casino venues.

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