MGM Grand Detroit Strike Still On, Hollywood Casino and MotorCity Agree Contracts

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Workers at MGM Grand Detroit this week rejected a tentative agreement on a new contract that the Detroit Casino Council Union negotiated with the casino’s owners, MGM Resorts International.

On the other hand, fellow Detroit casinos Hollywood Casino at Greektown and MotorCity Casino have agreed to a new contract, ending their strikes.

Some 3,700 workers from the three Michigan casinos were on strike for 34 days, with 2,100 of them now satisfied with new contracts. MGM Grand Detroit staff, around 1600, remain on walkout.

“Union members at MGM Grand Casino voted to reject the proposed deal and will continue to strike,” the council said in a statement.

“More bargaining dates will be scheduled. Membership at each casino property voted separately about whether to accept the deal.”

A Divided Response

The Casino Council represents five unions, UNITE HERE Local 24, UAW Local 7777, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.

Late last week it reached a tentative five-year labor agreement that promised significant benefits to casino employees.

This contract included the largest wage increase in the 23-year history of Detroit’s casinos. That meant an immediate average pay rise of 18%, as well as no increases in health care costs, workload reductions, enhanced job protections, novel new technology clauses, and retirement benefits increases.

The reasons behind MGM Grand Detroit workers’ rejection of the contract have not been publicly disclosed.

“This is a very disappointing result, especially considering the historic nature of our offer,” said Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International in a letter to the Detroit venue’s staff, as reported by Reuters.

Casino Strikes Mostly Averted

The agreement with 2,100 workers in Detroit ends much of the ongoing strike, which has disrupted Michigan retail sportsbooks and casinos for more than a month.

The latest data from the Michigan Gaming Control Board did not paint a good picture. It showed casino revenues tumbled between 10% and 20% for each of the three venues in October as the strikes rumbled on.

Elsewhere in the U.S, the famous Nevada casinos of Las Vegas narrowly averted an even larger strike earlier this month.

Striking workers in Detroit had joined in solidarity with Las Vegas hospitality workers, picketing ahead of a planned strike. Some 60,000 workers were ready to walk out, citing many of the same reasons as the Detroit workers.

However, giant casino operators MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, and Caesars Entertainment reached last-minute agreements on new contracts to avert strike action.

Workers Show What They’re Made Of

Across the U.S. the gambling sector is booming after recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest American Gaming Association report showed a record quarter for revenues, from online sports betting to casino slot games. Operators in the sector made a collective $16.17 billion, marking the 11th consecutive quarter of growth.

This kind of news does not go unnoticed by workers, who have a stronger union presence than many American sectors do.

Casino employees in Las Vegas and Michigan (minus the MGM Grand Detroit for now) have reached historic wage increases and contracts that reflect their importance to the operation.

“Our strike showed the casino industry and the world just what Detroit’s casino workers are made of,” said Tavera McCree, a valet cashier at Hollywood Casino at Greektown.

“This is a defining moment for workers in Detroit and nationwide. The gains we have made will change the lives of so many families who are living paycheck to paycheck. I would like to thank everyone who stood strong on the picket line to make this win possible.”

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