FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—October 31, 2023
Contact: Meghan Cohorst, [email protected], 239-503-1533
300+ Striking Casino Workers Head to Michigan State Capitol for Support
After launching a citywide casino strike on Oct. 17, Detroit’s casino workers call on state leaders to join their picket line and pass legislation supporting all working people in Michigan
Lansing, MI — More than 300 striking Detroit casino workers traveled to Lansing today to speak with state leaders at Michigan’s State Capitol about the strike and other important legislation impacting all working people in Michigan.
On October 17, casino workers who are members of the Detroit Casino Council – five unions working in coalition – launched a citywide casino strike affecting MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown. Detroit Casino workers were forced onto the picket line to protect their healthcare and win decent raises, fair workloads, and more job security. The wall-to-wall strike affects 3,700 casino employees across a broad range of classifications including dealers, cleaning staff, food and beverage workers, valets, engineers and more.
Today in Lansing, striking workers are appealing to Michigan leaders to join them on the picket line and allow Detroit to raise its minimum wage by repealing the “Death Star” bill, SB171, which would repeal preemptions on local government control of labor and workforce policies. The bill was passed by members of the Senate Labor Committee in September.
In September 2020, workers agreed to a three-year contract extension with minimal wage increases to help the industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Detroit casino workers have received only 3% raises, but inflation in Detroit has risen 20%. In contrast, industry gaming revenues have now surpassed pre-pandemic levels to reach a new record high. In 2022, the Detroit casino industry generated $2.27 billion in gaming revenue and is on track for another record-breaking year in 2023.
“We’re asking Michigan leaders to join us on the picket line because the wages we receive absolutely do not keep up with the rising cost of living,” said Terri Smith, a table games dealer at Hollywood Casino at Greektown and member of UAW Local 777. “We’re out here fighting for our families and for more good jobs in Michigan.”
“We’re on strike to maintain our healthcare and to have a livable wage. There’s no reason for anybody to be working in these casinos and be homeless,” said Alicia Weaver, a 24-year guest room attendant at MGM Grand Detroit and member of UNITE HERE Local 24.
“Our employers are making record profits. We want to maintain our healthcare and improve our wages so that they keep up with the rising costs of living,” said Shataya Thompson, a valet cashier at MotorCity Casino and a member of Teamsters Local 1038. “We’re asking our elected officials to understand that all we want is a fair contract.”
Detroit’s casino workers are winning support from other community leaders. Last week, the Detroit City Council unanimously passed a resolution backing unionized casino workers at the MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown in their struggle for a fair contract.
The Detroit Casino Council (DCC) is UNITE HERE Local 24, the UAW, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters. These five unions represent most of the workers at the three casinos in Detroit: Hollywood Casino at Greektown, MGM Grand Detroit, and MotorCity Casino. Our members work in food and beverage, housekeeping, retail outlets, slots and table games, engineering and more. The DCC partner unions are part of International Unions that have experience representing gaming workers and winning great contracts throughout the United States, including in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.