The state of Michigan is facing more labor issues, with thousands of workers at Detroit casinos walking off their job earlier this week.
This marks the first strike for casino workers since the city opened three casinos – Hollywood Casino at Greektown, MotorCity Casino Hotel and the MGM Grand – almost 25 years ago.
The workers are striking for better wages, and include beverage and food workers, housekeepers, valets and dealers. The unions that represent the nearly 3,700 casino workers tried to negotiate new contracts with the casinos, but they didn’t reach an agreement by the deadline of Tuesday at noon.
The workers had been employed under an agreement that was originally reached back in 2015. It was then extended for three years in 2020, giving the workers only small increases in pay because of the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic was having on the industry.
Since then, though, the workers in Detroit have only gotten 3% raises, which makes it hard for them to keep up with life since inflation has increased by about 20% locally, according to the unions.
In a statement, Nia Winston, who serves as president of the Unite Here Local 24 – one of the unions representing the casino workers – said:
“After we helped Detroit’s gaming industry get back on its feet, business is booming, but the people who make the casinos run are still struggling.”
Hollywood Casino and Greektown and MGM Grand Detroit both said they would continue to be open despite the strike. MotorCity Casino Hotel didn’t respond to comment requests from media outlets.
In a letter that was sent to all employees of the MGM Resorts’ Midwest Group on Tuesday, president and CEO Matt Buckley wrote:
“We will continue to offer employees work, and to the extent employees represented by the union choose to participate in the strike, we will take whatever lawful action is necessary to fill shifts and continue to provide our customers with entertainment and service.”
Hollywood Casino at Greektown said through a statement of their own that they were disappointed that the unions had rejected what the business called “generous, progressive settlement offers.” That being said, the company said they would continue to advance negotiations so that the labor dispute could end “as soon as possible.”
The latest strike with casino workers in Detroit is another knock on the city in terms of its labor force.
The United Auto Workers union has been on a strike for the last month now, with 34,000 workers at Stellantis, General Motors and Ford all staging rolling walkouts. That’s obviously caused major headaches and pain in the auto industry since these companies are known as the Detroit 3.
That strike has caused ripple effects in the entire U.S. economy already, and threatens to leave a long-lasting effect on the auto industry if it isn’t resolved soon.
Both of these strikes are on top of the one being carried out by actors of television and films, who still aren’t working after negotiations with large entertainment studios halted last week.