Hours Before Contract Expires, Billion-Dollar Casinos Continue to Play Hardball on Worker Wages and Healthcare
Detroit’s Casino Workers Voted by 99% to Authorize a Strike
DETROIT—Unionized casino workers in Detroit are seeking contract improvements after years of pandemic hardship. However, just hours before contracts are set to expire casino management is unwilling to deliver a fair contract for workers. In a report released today, the Detroit Casino Council (DCC) estimates that, if workers are forced to strike at MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino, and Hollywood Casino at Greektown, it could put at risk approximately $738,000 in city and state tax revenues and $3.4 million in casino operator revenues per day. At-risk revenue includes:
- $452,000 per day in tax revenue for the City of Detroit;
- $286,000 per day in tax revenue for the State of Michigan;
- $1.7 million per day in revenues for MGM Grand Detroit (operated by MGM Resorts International);
- $1.1 million per day in revenues for MotorCity Casino; and
- $652,000 per day in revenues for Hollywood Casino at Greektown (operated by PENN Entertainment).
Read the full report at https://unitehere.org/dcc-strike-impact-report/
For the City of Detroit, the wagering tax is a critical source of revenue used to fund job creation, public safety, economic development, and youth development programs. In 2022, the wagering tax was the City’s second highest revenue source, even surpassing property taxes.
The DCC has spent more than 160 hours in full-table negotiations and has held dozens of subcommittee meetings by department since the summer with a goal of reaching a deal. Still, workers and management remain far apart on wages, healthcare, retirement security, technology language, a fair workload for housekeepers and more.
“After we helped Detroit’s gaming industry get back on its feet, business is booming, but the people who make the casinos run are still struggling,” said Nia Winston, UNITE HERE Local 24 President. “Our goal is to reach a fair deal, but unfortunately, we’re still far apart. If the companies cannot do better, then we are prepared to strike.”
In 2022, the Detroit casino industry generated $2.27 billion in gaming revenue from in-person and online gaming: the highest revenue ever in Detroit’s history. Revenues were even higher during the first eight months of 2023, putting the casinos on track for another record-breaking year. In 2022, the three Detroit casinos collectively reported $813 million more in total gaming revenues than in 2019, but total wages paid to workers represented by the Detroit Casino Council at the three Detroit casinos in 2022 were $34 million less. Despite the industry’s recovery, there are now approximately 1,500 fewer union casino jobs in Detroit than before the pandemic. Since 2020, Detroit casino workers have received only 3% raises, but inflation in Detroit has risen 20%.
On September 29, workers from all unionized work groups—including food and beverage, housekeeping, retail, slots and table games, engineering and more—at all three Detroit casinos voted in a 99% landslide to authorize the Detroit Casino Council negotiating committee to call a strike.
“I want what’s best for my family,” said Shataya Thompson, a valet cashier at MotorCity Casino and member of Teamsters Local 1038 who is a mother of two with a third child on the way. “We need good wages that keep up with inflation and our healthcare. We’ve been here since the doors reopened and have gone through so much. Now, all we ask is for a fair contract.”
“The company is offering us nickels and dimes, and they want us to pay more for healthcare,” said Terri Sykes, a dealer at Motor City with 24 years of service and President of UAW Local 7777. “As a two-time breast cancer survivor, I’m fighting to protect our health care. These companies are making more than ever, and it’s time they respect us for all the sacrifices we made to keep the doors open during the pandemic.”
The Detroit Casino Council (DCC) is UNITE HERE Local 24, 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 Las Vegas and Atlantic City.