Detroit Casino Workers Protest, 3.7K People on Strike

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Earlier this week, casino workers in Detroit confirmed they are prepared to go on a massive strike if unions and the casino operators do not come to an agreement for a new labor contract. The workers demand increases in their wages, claiming that the post-pandemic profits are increasing but payment stays the same. Moreover, casino workers are increasingly concerned about the rise in the cost of living and growing inflation.

Since no agreement was signed until noon on Tuesday, some 3,700 workers in Detroit are now on strike. There are five unions that are represented by the Detroit Casino Council, the United Auto Workers, UNITE HERE Local 24, Operating Engineers Local 324, Teamsters Local 1038, as well as the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, all participating in the strike.

Previously, strike actions received the approval of 99% of the union members. As a result, casino workers, valets, food and beverage staff, housekeeping employees, engineers and other workers from Detroit’s three casinos are now on strike.

It is unclear how long the strike will last. However, as announced by WXYZ, the Detroit City Council anticipates that the losses for the three casinos in Detroit daily can be north of $3 million in revenue. Additionally, the Council said that the losses in taxes for the state and the City of Detroit may be some $738,000 per day.

Workers Demand Increase in Wages

Matt Buckley, MGM Grand Detroit’s COO and president, confirmed in a letter on Tuesday that the casino plans to continue operating. He explained: “We will continue to offer employees work, and to the extent employees represented by the union choose to participate in the strike.” Additionally, Buckley confirmed that the casino will take all necessary lawful actions to ensure the filling of shifts and continue to provide its services.

These companies are making more than ever, and it’s time they respect us for all the sacrifices we made to keep the doors open during the pandemic.

Terri Sykes, UAW Local 7777 president and dealer at MotorCity Casino

Terri Sykes, a MotorCity Casino dealer and president of UAW Local 7777, criticized the low wages casino employees receive, adding that companies want the workers to pay more for healthcare. She explained that she is a two-time breast cancer survivor and said that she fights for better health care. Finally, Sykes added that casino giants are raking in lots of money and pointed out that workers need to receive their fair share for keeping the casinos open during the pandemic.

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