The strike that Detroit casino workers authorized earlier this year has officially begun. On Tuesday at noon local time, members of several unions walked off their jobs and started picket lines in front of the three brick-and-mortar commercial casinos in Detroit.
While contract negotiations have not yet broken down between the unions and the casinos, there is no potential cutoff date for the work stoppage. At this time, the casinos don’t seem inclined to close even if they might not have much choice.
Detroit casino workers make good on strike threat
On Sept. 29, Detroit casino workers nearly unanimously voted to authorize a potential strike if leadership deemed necessary. That time came on Tuesday, with members of five unions abandoning their jobs at Hollywood at Greektown, MGM Grand and Motorcity casinos.
The 3,700 workers now on strike include those who filled many disparate jobs for the three casinos. Those range from security and hospitality to operating the various games. Without their services, much of the activity at the casinos could come to a complete standstill.
While workers are picketing, negotiations with the casinos are still ongoing. According to Drew Ellis of PlayMichigan, the Detroit Casino Council says it has spent 160 hours in those negotiations to this point.
Those negotiations have included six separate proposals for new contracts according to Matt Buckley, president & COO of the Midwest Group. To date, none of those proposals has produced an agreement on five pertinent issues.
What casino workers are seeking in new contracts
Key demands from the unions include concessions from the casinos in five main facets of their members’ jobs. Those include:
- Better compensation
- Enhanced retirement benefits
- Greater staffing levels
- Improved healthcare coverage
- Protections from job loss due to automation
It’s an unprecedented move for casino workers in Detroit to strike. However, the issues at stake in the contract negotiations are pivotal not only for their livelihoods but the futures of Detroit’s casinos as well. What’s certain is that union members are currently playing their most powerful card.