Detroit Casino Workers’ Strike Continue at MGM Grand Detroit Despite Union Vote

Jessica Aletor
By:
Jessica Aletor
21/11/2023/
Industry
Michigan Casino News

Highlights

  • On Friday, Nov. 17, casino authorities and the Detroit Casino Council members announced that their negotiations had birthed a tentative agreement.
  • The 34-day strike officially ended on Sunday, Nov. 19, after workers from MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown voted for the agreement.
  • However, MGM Grand Detroit workers rejected the proposed 64-month deal, implying that picketing will continue at that location.

On Tuesday, October 17, about 3,700 workers drawn from across the three retail casinos in Detroit embarked on an indefinite strike to press home five demands. Their agitation centered on workload reduction, retirement benefit increment, a pay raise, free healthcare and a technology contract language.

The industrial action which lasted 34 days finally came to an end on Sunday, November 19 after union members from MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown accepted the deal proposed by casino management. However, while this brings an end to picketing at two of Detroit’s three retail casinos, the fate of workers at MGM Grand Detroit remains undetermined.

Casinos Reached Tentative Agreement with Union Days Before the Strike Ended 

Although the strike did not officially come to an end until Sunday, Nov. 19, there had been extensive negotiations ongoing before then. These talks eventually culminated in a tentative agreement on Friday, Nov. 17. According to the Detroit Casino Council, this tentative agreement would span five years and includes “the largest wage increases ever negotiated in the Detroit casino industry’s 23-year history.”

The tentative agreement addressed all five major demands that led staff of Detroit casinos to embark on the strike. Some of the workers involved in the picketing included cleaning staff, valets, casino dealers, engineers and food workers.

Following the trajectory of events, several factors could have contributed to the speedy resolution of differences. Most notable is the October report of Detroit casino revenue where all three retail locations were said to have seen about 20% in their revenues. Moreover, picketing workers began to call for a boycott of online casinos, a move which could have more significantly impacted revenue.

On Friday, representatives of all three Detroit casinos expressed their satisfaction with the deal.

“We are thrilled that a tentative agreement has been reached, marking a positive step forward in our union negotiations with the Detroit Casino Council. We take pride in providing exceptional jobs and benefits that support and reward our dedicated workforce, and we look forward to ratification of the deal,” Bruce Dall, President of MotorCity Casino Hotel, said in a press release.

Union Votes in Support of $3 Per Hour Raise as Part of New Contract Terms 

Matt Buckley, the President and COO of the Midwest Group of MGM Resorts International also highlighted that his company was pleased with the agreement and looked forward to welcoming back union employees to MGM Grand Detroit. However, in a rather shocking turn of events, DCC-represented employees from MGM Grand Detroit were the only ones that voted against the tentative deal on Sunday.

All 3,700 members voted to determine if the 64-month new contract met their demands. The bulk of this number, representing Hollywood Casino and MotorCity voted in the affirmative. The content of the deal included the following:

  • No increase to health care costs for employees.
  • A pay raise of $3 per hour, with an increase to a $5 per hour raise during the tenure of the contract.
  • Paid Juneteenth holiday.
  • Reduction in workloads for staff.
  • 401k employer match program up to $1,000 starting from the second year.
  • Healthcare and severance pay for workers laid off due technology advancements.
  • Training for new jobs created by technology advancement.  

While more than 600 employees of MGM Grand Detroit voted “yes” to these terms, it wasn’t enough to secure ratification and bring an end to the strike. As of the time of writing, the new demands by the workers are yet to be stated. However, staff of MGM Grand Detroit are expected to continue picketing until further resolution is provided.  

MGM Grand Detroit Chief Expresses Disappointment at “NO” Vote

As soon as voting results were available on Sunday, President of MGM Resorts International’s Midwest Group, Buckley addressed the voters. He expressed disappointment at MGM Grand Detroit workers being the only ones to vote against the deal.

“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.” Again, it’s disappointing that our DCC-represented employees would vote to reject a contract that the overall majority has approved,” Buckley said in a letter to the MGM Grand Detroit Team.

This outcome places MGM Grand Detroit between a rock and a hard place. The casino is Detroit's highest grossing retail location and was also the worst hit according to revenue statistics released by the MGCB. As negotiations proceed, the casino will continue functioning at a limited capacity.

Jessica is a news contributor to Gamble Online Michigan. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics but has over three years of experience working in the hospitality and gambling industry. Despite her core finance and investment banking background, she has been a casino feature writer for N1 Interactive Limited and multiple gambling affiliate sites. Her work has been featured on the bet365 blog, casino.zone and Max Force Racing. She spends her time between Michigan and California, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments