On Sunday night, I heard on the news that Detroit’s casino workers, who’ve been on strike for a little more than a month now, were close to settling the strikes against their respective casinos. But last night, passing by the MGM Grand, I saw lots of workers still on strike on the sidewalk around that casino.
Indeed on Sunday night workers at MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown ratified new contracts, but workers at MGM Grand voted down the deal they were offered. The vote margin has not been published. JC Reindl for the Detroit Free Press:
About 3,700 workers at all three casinos went out on strike Oct. 17 when their previous contract expired. The casinos have stayed open during the strike by relying on casino managers.
The newly ratified contracts cover about 2,100 workers at MotorCity and Hollywood Casino at Greektown, and, according to union officials, feature the highest wage increases since the casinos opened.
The contracts include an upfront $3 an hour raise in year one and $5 an hour in total raises over the five years, the casino council[, which is comprised of five unions,] said. There also is no increased costs for employee health insurance, a first-ever 401(k) employer match (up to $1,000), a paid Juneteenth holiday and reduced workloads in housekeeping and other classifications.
I am certain all three casinos can easily afford these very reasonable provisions. After all, house advantages have increased over the years with stingier payouts (such as 6-to-5 for 2-card blackjack rather than 3-to-2) and you have to be a special kind of stable genius to own a casino that loses money.
From what I’ve seen over the past month, a lot of people are crossing the picket line to gamble at MGM Grand. I get the sense that these are people who would not buy scab newspapers (workers at the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News went on strike in 1996) but holding off from donating money to the casinos is too great a sacrifice.
Hopefully though the gamblers who would normally go to MGM decide they’d rather gamble at a casino without a picket line around it. That would probably be the most convincing reason for MGM to settle the strike in the workers’ favor.