In mid-October, over 3,700 employees walked off their jobs at Detroit’s three casinos (MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino, and Hollywood Casino at Greektown) after failing to reach a new contract agreement. The strike, which marks the first of its kind in Detroit since the opening of commercial casinos in 1999, is primarily driven by five core bargaining issues, with better wages on top of the list.
The strike, initiated on October 17, marks a historic labor movement in Detroit, where unionized workers in the casino industry are taking a stand for their rights. Over the summer, negotiations took place, involving more than 160 hours of full-table discussions and numerous subcommittee meetings, yet no agreement was reached.
The casino workers, represented by five unions, have specific demands, including improvements in wages, better healthcare benefits, enhanced retirement packages, workload reductions, and job security in light of technological advancements. These issues have been at the forefront of their struggle, reflecting the challenges faced by labor in the modern age.
As the strike enters its second month, the Detroit casino workers remain committed to their goals. While the strike has been financially challenging for the employees, they continue to stand united in their fight for better working conditions. To support their members during the strike, the unions have set up a strike fund to help workers sustain the costs of not working.
The striking workers have been receiving support from various quarters. Local unions in other states, including UNITE HERE Local 26 from Rhode Island and Massachusetts, have expressed solidarity with the Detroit casino workers. Additionally, the Culinary Workers Union 226, currently fighting for a contract in Las Vegas, has extended their support, showing the strength of unions standing together in times of need.
While the striking workers have been picketing, they have also organized a donation drive to help them sustain their livelihoods during the strike. They are collecting essential items like warm winter clothes, non-perishable food items, diapers, baby formula, feminine hygiene products, and cleaning supplies.
The strike has put pressure on Detroit’s casino industry, leading to a reduction in business, which is estimated to be down by around 50%. This translates to substantial daily losses of revenue for the casinos, estimated to be between $1.5 million and $2.5 million collectively, with corresponding impacts on tax revenue for the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit.
The strike has raised concerns about the impact on the local economy and the potential for patrons to turn to online casinos. However, the casinos remain open, albeit at limited capacity. This situation could result in a substantial loss for the casinos, prompting questions about their willingness to settle the strike given that they still have online operations.
As the strike continues, Detroit’s casino workers remain resilient, hoping for a resolution that will improve their working conditions and quality of life. While the strike has brought challenges, it has also demonstrated the determination and unity of the unions representing the casino workers.