Detroit casino workers reject tentative deal at MGM Grand, continue striking

Workers at MotorCity, Greektown approve deal

A man plays a slot machine at the MGM Grand Detroit casino in Detroit, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DETROIT – After reaching a tentative union contract last week with three Downtown Detroit casinos, unionized workers at two of the casinos voted to ratify the deal to officially end their strike over the weekend.

However, unionized casino workers at MGM Grand Detroit were still on strike Monday, Nov. 20 after voting down the tentative contract agreement reached with the company. The Detroit Casino Council, which represents unionized casino workers from several unions, did not say why MGM Grand Detroit employees rejected the tentative deal with the company.

Officials only said that unionized workers voted separately at each of the three Detroit properties, and that “more bargaining dates” would be scheduled for negotiations. MGM officials previously said the company offered several proposals throughout the bargaining process, which included the casino’s “largest pay increase” in its history.

“This is a very disappointing result, especially considering the historic nature of our offer and the fact that it would immediately and positively benefit our DCC-represented MGM Grand employees and their families,” Matt Buckley, president and COO of MGM Resorts Midwest Group, said in a statement Monday.

“It’s also disappointing because the other two Detroit casinos voted ‘yes’ on ratification,” Buckley said. “All employees were voting on the exact same contract, which the DCC itself said was ‘a historic investment in Detroit’s future’ and ‘fulfills the gaming industry’s promise to Detroit of high-paying casino jobs with good benefits.’”

Workers at MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown voted in favor of the five-year contracts over the weekend. The strike at those two properties officially ended at 9 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19.

The council and Detroit casino workers said last week that the tentative deal is “historic” and includes wage increases and benefits that help close the cost-of-living gap that workers say has only widened in recent years. The council said the agreement “includes the largest wage increases ever negotiated in the Detroit casino industry’s 23-year history (including an immediate 18% pay raise on average), no health care cost increases for employees, workload reductions and other job protections, first-ever technology contract language, retirement increases and more.”

After months of negotiations, unionized Detroit casino workers launched a strike on Oct. 17 due to being at odds with the companies over healthcare costs and wages, particularly as the industry rebounds following pandemic struggles. About 3,700 workers went on strike.

Union members told Local 4 last month that they didn’t want to strike amid what they called hard times, but felt they needed to be heard.

“The workers are seeking contract improvements after years of pandemic hardship -- including wages that keep up with inflation, healthcare, retirement security, technology language, fair workloads for housekeepers, and more -- but casino management has been unwilling to deliver a fair contract for workers,” union officials said in October.

The Detroit Casino Council -- which oversees casino workers represented by Unite Here, United Auto Workers, Teamsters, Operating Engineers, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters unions -- reached a tentative five-year contract agreement to end the strike on Nov. 17 -- 32 days into the strike. The Unite Here union’s Local 24 said the tentative agreement is the “best agreement in [the] history of [the] Detroit casino industry.”

Officials said last month the strike was expected to significantly impact the casinos, Detroit and the state of Michigan, putting at risk “approximately $738,000 in city and state tax revenues and $3.4 million in casino operator revenues per day.”

---> How much tax revenue do Detroit casinos generate every year?

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.