December 4, 2023 2 min read


Unionized Manitoba Casino Workers Threaten Strike Over Contract Dispute

Nearly a year and a half without a formal agreement caused significant concerns among workers, who may take labor action just two days before Christmas

Unionized employees at several Winnipeg casinos are gearing up for potential strike action should contract negotiations with Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries fail to reach a satisfactory resolution by 23 December. This development mirrors rising worker discontent among casino employees in North America as employees demand enhanced protection against the rising cost of living.

Manitoba Is the Latest Hotspot for Labor Activity

Unifor Local 144, representing over 750 workers across McPhillips Station Casino, Club Regent Casino, and the Shark Club Casino, made a press release on Friday announcing their members’ overwhelming support for strike action. Roles within the union encompass dealers, cashiers, slot attendants, security officers, customer service representatives, and trades workers.

The looming threat of strike action highlights the severity of the dissatisfaction among casino workers and the urgency for the employer to engage constructively in negotiations. Unifor Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle expressed disappointment with the affected employers’ approach to negotiations, citing a lack of progress and respect.

Unifor members make Manitoba Lotteries wildly profitable. They’ve earned a fair contract.

Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director

With the casino workers’ collective agreement having lapsed in June 2022 and a meager 1.75% wage increase over the past six years, the union representatives voiced their impatience and determination to secure a more favorable deal. Unless employers present a more suitable offer, the threat of labor actions could significantly affect casino operations during some of the year’s most profitable months.

Similar Initiatives Led to Worker Success

The looming strikes in Manitoba closely follow the high-profile labor action that shook the MGM Grand Detroit Casino. On 2 December, union members, consisting of nearly 4,000 employees affiliated with the Detroit Casino Council, decisively voted in favor of a new five-year contract. This milestone achievement ended a historic 47-day strike, demonstrating how decisive action can significantly improve labor conditions.

These two cases are part of a rising industry trend as underpaid casino employees band together to demand better working conditions. Labor discontent in Las Vegas and Melbourne demonstrates the endemic nature of this problem, as economic uncertainties and the rising cost-of-living crisis highlighted deficiencies in pay and job security in the sector. 

As Unifor Local 144’s 23 December deadline approaches, the future of these labor negotiations and the potential impact on casino operations remains uncertain. However, precedent shows that persistence and commitment are often enough to sway even high-profile operators and help workers secure fair contracts safeguarding their rights

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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