As labor disputes unfold in Detroit, thousands of workers at the city’s three primary casinos remain on strike amidst expired contracts. The workforce of about 3,700 – which includes cleaning staff, engineers, food and beverage servers, table game dealers, and valets – has entered its second week of work stoppage.
Despite the staff shortage, MotorCity Casino Hotel, MGM Grand Detroit, and Hollywood Casino at Greektown remain open, albeit while offering reduced services. MotorCity has curtailed high-limit table games and first-floor slots, while the poker room, select restaurants, bars, and valet area stand temporarily closed.
MGM Grand Detroit indicated intentions to stay open through the strike, striving to contain any inconvenience to guests. As a result of the stoppage, the casino and its associated hotel’s valet service remain closed, in addition to temporary closures at Hollywood Casino at Greektown.
From the management side, casino officials maintain that they have proposed generous offers to the striking workers. However, such offers have faced scrutiny from the Detroit Casino Council (DCC), which represents the employees. The Council expressed discontent with elements of management’s proposal such as insufficient salary offerings, high workloads, lacking healthcare protection, job security, and inadequate retirement pay.
Nia Winston, the President of Unite Here, Local 24, voiced the workers’ sentiment, asserting the necessity of striking to ensure that they receive a substantial portion of the casinos’ earnings. Tirelessly keeping the casinos operational, especially throughout the pandemic, the workers are resilient in their pursuit of fair treatment and compensation.
Terri Sykes, a dealer at MotorCity Casino and President of UAW Local 7777, emblemizes this resilience as a two-time breast cancer survivor. To her, the strike means fighting for healthcare rights in an industry that’s profiting more than ever.
The present situation follows a three-year contract extension in 2020 that granted a 3% increase for Detroit casino workers. The sector reported $2.27B in gaming revenue in 2022, with industry projections indicating a record-breaking year for 2023.
Simultaneously, Ontario’s Caesars Windsor Hotel & Casino has seized this opportunity, seeking to allure Detroit’s casino visitors to their Canadian property.
United Auto Workers members in Michigan and across the United States have also threatened similar strikes. In Las Vegas, a striking mandate could be imminent if contract negotiations between the Culinary and Bartenders Union and casino operators fail to secure a new agreement.