Unifor leads the way with new gains in the gaming sector

In two recently ratified collective agreements, Unifor committees at Locals 444 and 1090 achieved agreements that will go a long way to help members recover from lengthy pandemic-related lay-offs.

In Windsor, Unifor Local 444 members at the Caesars casino ratified a new three-year collective agreement by 93% on March 20, 2022. The contract is filled with improvements, including wage increases each year, a pension enhancement of 1%, and a signing bonus of up to $1,600 per member.

President Dave Cassidy said the agreement sets a new standard for the gaming sector, noting that the agreement’s entire compensation package makes Local 444 members at Caesars the “highest-paid gaming members in Canada.”

The contract also features multiple benefits enhancements across life insurance, vision, eye exams, physiotherapy, massage, medical health practitioner, chiro/naturopath/speech, psychologist, and personal emergency leave.

Unifor has also been successful in 2022 at making breakthroughs for first agreements. Local 103 members at Cascades Casino North Bay negotiated wages, pensions, and job security language that nearly matches mature collective agreements at other Gateway casino properties. The contract was ratified on March 22.

More recently, Unifor Local 1090 members at Casino Rama near Orillia, Ontario also ratified a new three-year collective agreement on April 14.

The contract secures significant wage increases for workers: 3% in both years one and two and 3.5% in year three. The gains for members working in the skilled trades are even higher at 5% each year.

“Since joining Unifor in 2015, workers at Casino Rama have seen massive wage increases and new benefits that would have been impossible in a non-union environment,” said Corey Dalton, president of Unifor Local 1090.

Ambitious negotiating goals are also on the horizon for Unifor members at Great Canadian Gaming Corporation sites. Bargaining committees for Locals 1090 and 504 will meet in May to discuss company-wide bargaining strategies.

“The gaming industry is constantly changing and we have to ensure our contracts continue to lead the way for workers and their families,” said Chris Macdonald, assistant to the Unifor National President.

On the prairies, Unifor members at Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries are set to begin bargaining this summer when their contract expires in June. Local 144 expects a difficult round under the province’s conservative government, which sets the parameters of bargaining for the Crown corporation. Unifor’s 800 members in the sector will prioritize wages and job security now that Manitoba’s casinos are operating at full capacity.

In British Columbia, Local 3000 is preparing for bargaining at the Parq Vancouver Casino Resort. It also promises to be a challenge as Unifor members fight to keep compensation and benefits above rising inflation.

The recent gains made by Unifor casino workers in Ontario establish new benchmarks for employers to live up to. After facing years of difficult circumstances, Canada’s gaming sector workers deserve contracts that respect these standards and undo the pandemic’s worst economic effects.