Detroit casino workers prepared to go on strike on Tuesday if contract talks fail

Around 3,700 employees of Detroit’s casinos are poised to initiate a strike on Tuesday at noon, in the event that a contract agreement is not reached, the Detroit Casino Council (DCC) has confirmed.

The impending strike would affect the operations of Detroit’s three casinos: MGM Grand Detroit, operated by MGM Resorts International; Motor City Casino; and Hollywood at Greek Town, operated by Penn Entertainment.

The DCC is comprised of a negotiating committee consisting of five unions, which include Unite Here Local 24, the UAW, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.

On September 29, the DCC secured a vote from 99% of unionized workers across the three casinos authorizing the negotiating committee to call for a strike. Despite negotiations having commenced in the summer, no contract has been reached that addresses wage increases in line with inflation, improved healthcare, and retirement benefits.

During the pandemic, a time in which casinos faced several difficulties, the DCC agreed to a three-year contract in 2020 featuring annual 3% raises. However, it was noted in a statement on Monday from the DCC that inflation in Detroit has surged by 20% since then.

Since the end of the COVID crisis, the gaming industry’s revenues have exceeded pre-pandemic levels, with the Detroit casino sector generating $2.27 billion in 2022, according to the negotiating committee.

The DCC estimates that if workers proceed with a strike at the three casinos, it could jeopardize operator revenues amounting to $3.4 million daily, with MGM Grand Detroit bearing the highest impact at $1.7 million.

Amid a labor market characterized by tight conditions and high inflation, unions across various U.S. industries, including rail and healthcare, have engaged in negotiations for improved wages and benefits.

The announcement of the strike in Detroit coincides with ongoing discussions involving 40,000 hospitality workers in Las Vegas, employed at casinos operated by MGM, Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts, who are seeking better wages and benefits.

Notably, the Culinary Workers and Bartenders Unions staged a picket at MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment properties in Vegas last Thursday, without declaring a strike deadline as of yet.