North and South of the US-Canada border, July has been a month of brinkmanship between casinos and their unions. At the beginning of the month, Atlantic City’s casino workers called off a strike just ahead of the holiday weekend after striking a deal with the facilities where they worked. And now, with Ontario’s casino workers on the brink of taking industrial action on Saturday, July 23, the eleventh hour has been the moment for resolution once again.
Negotiations between the union and the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation resulted in a pay deal early on Saturday, hours before workers were due to walk out and withdraw their labor in protest over what they saw as insufficient wages, benefits and pensions. At the present time, full details of what made up the final deal have not been released to the public, but it would appear that it has been enough to prevent a walkout that could have presented a significant headache to six of the eight casinos run by the GCGC in the province.
Two other casinos, however, were the site of work stoppages as talks continued to take place between union reps and management at Casino Ajax and Pickering Casino Resort. An agreement was not struck over the weekend, meaning that talks will resume early on Monday to find a way through the impasse. The hope will be that the parties can come to an agreement early on, given that union members are due to vote on the initial deal this week.
There is some hope that the strikes at Ajax and Pickering can be quickly solved, as the parties both signposted on Friday evening that the bulk of an agreement had been reached with just the question of money matters to be clarified.
The strike in Ontario – and the late-hour action to avert it – has some echoes of the similar industrial action that was narrowly averted in Atlantic City three weeks ago. The coastal resort, which relies on casino gaming for much of its revenue, saw a strike which boiled down to a disagreement between union officials and owners at the Borgata, Caesars, Harrah’s, Hard Rock, and Tropicana facilities. The impasse ended with what union officials declared was “the best contract we’ve ever had” being offered, and while we know little about the deal agreed in Ontario, it seems likely that similar noises will be made there.