Detroit casino workers have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if necessary, as they demand higher wages and better benefits from their employers. The Detroit Casino Council, which represents workers from MGM Grand Detroit, Hollywood at Greektown, and MotorCity casinos, announced on Friday that 99% of its members voted in favor of the strike authorization. The council said it could call for strikes as early as mid-October when the current contracts expire.
The workers include those who staff the majority of the operations at the three casinos, such as the slots and table games on the gaming floors, as well as restaurants, bars, retail outlets, hotels, cleaning, maintenance and more. The council said that the workers sacrificed raises and took on heavier workloads during the COVID-19 pandemic to help their employers stay afloat. However, they claim that they have not been rewarded for their efforts, as the industry’s gaming revenues have surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
Workers demand fair compensation
The workers are hoping to win contract gains that would bring Detroit casino jobs back in line with the standard of good jobs that were promised to hospitality workers when voters approved legalizing casino gaming in 1996 and the City Council later authorized the three casinos. The workers are seeking wage increases, retirement security and job protection from the implementation of new technology.
Alicia Weaver, who has worked as a housekeeper for MGM Grand since it opened in 1999, said that she wants a wage that will allow her to take care of her family and maintain her health care. She said that she and her co-workers helped the company survive the pandemic and deserve to be acknowledged for their hard work.
Terri Sykes, president of UAW Local 7777, which represents some of the casino workers, said that the workers are fed up with an economy that is broken. She said that they are considering all options available to make sure one job in a Detroit casino is enough to raise a family on.
Strike could impact Detroit’s economy
A potential strike by Detroit casino workers could have a significant impact on the city’s economy, which is still recovering from a major financial crisis and the effects of the pandemic. According to Wayne State University economics professor Shooshan Danagoulian, a strike could affect not only the casinos’ revenues, but also the surrounding businesses downtown that rely on casino visitors for their income. He said that recovering from a hit like a strike would be much harder for a city like Detroit than for other cities with more diversified economies.
The three Detroit casinos reported $104.9 million in monthly aggregate revenue for August 2023, which consist of $104.6 million generated from table games and slots, and $322,186 from retail sports betting. Table games and slot revenue in August decreased 2% compared with the prior month. August monthly revenue was 0.1% higher than August 2022.
The deadline for a contract agreement between the Detroit Casino Council and the three casinos is Oct. 16, 2023. In a statement, Dana Cohen of MGM Resorts International said that MGM Resorts has a long history of bargaining successfully with the Detroit Casino Council and that both parties are committed to negotiating a contract that is good for everyone.