- Thousands of unionized casino workers in Detroit walked off the job on Tuesday after negotiations between employees and three major casinos failed to result in a deal, hospitality union Unite Here shared.
- The workers are seeking contract improvements after “years of pandemic hardship,” the union said. The workers are advocating for “significant” wage increases, healthcare protections, additional job security language, improved retirement contributions and reduction of high workloads.
- The strike affects up to 3,700 workers — including valets, food and beverage employees, engineers, housekeepers and dealers — at MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown. Those on strike are now the latest to join in a wave of hospitality industry labor action across the country.
Since September 2020, when the casino workers’ last three-year contract began, employees in Detroit have earned 3% raises. Workers on strike contend that’s not enough to meet cost of living, given inflation in the city has risen by 20% in the same period, according to Unite Here.
Workers in Detroit join others protesting their wages for similar reasons. Those participating in the ongoing multihotel strike in Southern California say their pay is insufficient to meet the rising cost of living. And workers in Las Vegas — who are not on strike, but have voted overwhelmingly to authorize one — are seeking the union’s “largest wage increases ever.”
“We are fighting from Detroit to Vegas, from Biloxi to Pennsylvania, to raise wages and standards for casino workers,” said Gwen Mills, secretary-treasurer of Unite Here International Union, in a statement. “Hospitality workers overall across the US and Canada kept the doors open during the pandemic, risking their health and forgoing raises. Now they are striking in Detroit, Los Angeles and Vancouver, along with hundreds of thousands of other workers from other industries, demanding a share in the prosperity that the hospitality industry is currently experiencing.”
Unite Here is one of several unions involved in the walkouts. United Auto Workers Local 7777, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324 and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters are also on strike.
Matt Buckley, president and COO of MGM Resorts’ Midwest Group, said the resort intends “to continue to operate our business during any potential strike and will remain open this week and beyond.”
“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 providing our customers with entertainment and service,” Buckley added.
The strike is the first to take place at any of the three casinos, according to the Detroit Free Press. Each day employees strike risks up to $738,000 in city and state tax revenues, as well as $3.4 million in revenue for casino operator revenues, according to a report released on Monday by the Detroit Casino Council, which represents the workers in negotiations.
MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino did not respond to Hotel Dive’s inquiries about the extent of the disruption by press time. But a statement on Hollywood Casino’s website read that while the resort remains open, some services are limited. Valet services at the property are temporarily closed, restaurant hours are reduced and beverage service may not be available.