As they negotiate for higher wages, workers vote overwhelmingly in favor of strike authorization at all three Detroit casinos
Detroit— This evening at 09:40pm, the Detroit Casino Council announced that members from MGM Grand Detroit, Hollywood at Greektown and MotorCity casinos — voted 99% “yes” to authorize a strike, if deemed necessary by the worker negotiating committee. Workers flooded the Teamsters Hall today between 7:00am-9:00pm to cast their ballots with the results revealed shortly after the polls closed and ballots were counted.
After the COVID shutdowns, Detroit casino workers sacrificed raises and shouldered heavier workloads so the industry could recover. In September 2020, the DCC agreed to a 3-year contract extension with minimal wage increases to help their employers get back on their feet. Following the end of COVID restrictions and the legalization of online gaming, industry gaming revenues have now surpassed pre-pandemic levels to a new record high, but Detroit’s casino workers are getting left behind. Workers are hoping to win contract gains that would bring Detroit casino jobs back in line with the standard of good jobs that were promised to hospitality workers when voters approved legalizing casino gaming in 1996 and the City Council later authorized the three casinos.
In 2022, the Detroit casino industry generated $2.27 billion in gaming revenue through in-person and online gaming, the highest ever in the history of the industry. So far in 2023, reports from January through August show that revenues are even higher than last year, on track for another record-breaking year.
Last month, MGM Grand Detroit’s parent company, MGM Resorts International, reported an “all-time record” for company-wide net revenues in the second quarter.[iv] In 2022, both MGM Resorts International and Hollywood at Greektown’s parent company, PENN Entertainment, reported higher revenues and profits in the US than pre-pandemic.[v] Since the pandemic, the two companies have spent heavily on stock buybacks to benefit their Wall Street shareholders, with MGM spending over $5.60 billion and PENN spending $750 million so far.
Workers have been negotiating since early September, with a focus on securing wage increases that could make Detroit’s casino jobs family-sustaining jobs once again. Other issues include strengthening retirement and securing protections for workers impacted by the implementation of new technology. The strike authorization secured in Friday’s vote puts the decision of whether and when to strike in the hands of the Detroit Casino Council (DCC) worker negotiating committee, which is made up of 5 unions that represent most of the workers at the 3 casinos: UNITE HERE Local 24, UAW, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters. The DCC could call for strikes as soon as mid-October when contracts expire.
“Workers are fed up in an economy that is broken: costs keep going up, but when profits came back to the gaming industry, they didn’t go into workers’ pockets. Just like auto workers, Blue Cross Blue Shield staff, UPS workers, writers, and hotel workers, Detroit casino workers are considering all options available to make sure one job in a Detroit casino is enough to raise a family on. We expect the casinos to heed our concerns to avoid a strike,” said Nia Winston, UNITE HERE Local 24 President.
“Detroit’s casino workers of the Detroit Casino Council voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike today because we’re the people who worked with the companies through COVID and put in the time, energy, hard work. The casino companies are making more than their fair share. But we’re not making ours. The message our members are sending to these companies is that the casino workers at MGM Grand, MotorCity and Hollywood at Greektown are ready to stand together and fight for what we deserve. I’m proud of my coworkers for taking this step to take care of their families and enjoy their lives,” said Terri Sykes, UAW Local 7777 President, MotorCity Casino table games.
Members of the worker negotiating committee and union officials are available for interviews. Please contact to coordinate.
Contact: Tiffany Ten Eyck, 313-515-1807, [email protected]