In Canada, the strike that has shut the Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino is now reportedly into its 41st day after last month saw 59% of the Ontario venue’s workforce reject a new contract agreement that would have seen their hourly salaries rise by an average of only CAD$1.75 ($1.37) over the course of the next three years.
According to a Monday report from the Detroit Free Press newspaper, talks between the casino owned by the state-run Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and the Local 444 chapter of the Unifor trade union resumed yesterday although the Essex County property has already canceled all hotel reservations and concerts through to the end of the month.
Dave Cassidy, President for the Local 444 branch of Unifor, reportedly told the newspaper that contract talks have been at a standstill since April 18 with negotiators also at odds over the casino’s time-off request system and its policy of replacing union-run restaurants with non-union businesses.
“Hopefully we come away with a fair and equitable agreement,” Cassidy reportedly told the Detroit Free Press.
Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino with its 100,000 sq ft gaming floor opened in 1998 but a similar dispute with its more than 2,000 workers reportedly led to a 42-day strike in 2004. The majority of staff at the facility operated by Las Vegas-based casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corporation currently purportedly earn around CAD$17 (US$13.40) per hour while the most recent offer of a 9.4% increase would have seen this rate rise to approximately CAD$20.42 (US$15.93) by the end of 2021.
However, Cassidy reportedly told the newspaper that, by comparison, January saw the minimum hourly wage in Ontario swell by 20% to CAD$14 (US$10.92) while this rate is due to hit CAD$15 (US$11.70) early next year.
The Detroit Free Press reported that Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino workers moreover rejected a provision in the updated contract that would have seen full-time employees receive a CAD$1,150 (US$906) signing bonus alongside similar incentives for part-time and casual workers worth CAD$900 (US$709) and CAD$500 (US$394) respectively.
Cassidy reportedly pointed to the fact that Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino regularly brings in annual revenues of around CAD$270 million (US$212 million) and last year paid the city of Windsor a record ‘hosting fee’ valued at over CAD$10 million (US$7.88 million).
“We hear ‘we aren’t making any money’ but I can tell you [that] you don’t hand out multi-million-dollar checks if you’re not making any money,” Cassidy reportedly told the newspaper.
The Detroit Free Press reported that the temporary closure of Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino may be a boon for some of its rivals across the river in the city of Detroit. Citing official figures from the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the newspaper explained that the downtown MGM Grand Detroit posted a 3% year-on-year rise in April revenues while the figure for the nearby MotorCity Casino Hotel swelled by an even more encouraging 4% with the Greektown Casino Hotel recording a 0.5% decrease.
“We’ll never know for sure but I do have a strong suspicion that the closure of Windsor has resulted in more dollars flowing across the border,” Alex Calderone, Managing Director for local boutique financial advisory firm Calderone Advisory Group, reportedly told the Detroit Free Press. “The longer that casino is closed, the better it is for Detroit.”