Detroit Casino Workers Officially On Strike

Written By Drew Ellis on October 17, 2023 - Last Updated on October 24, 2023

Detroit casino workers have officially gone on strike.

At noon on Tuesday, workers of five different unions began picketing at the three Detroit casinos in search of a new contract that better meets their needs.

This is the first casino worker strike in the history of the Detroit casinos.

DETROIT CASINO STRIKE UPDATES AS THEY BREAK:

Five unions representing 3,700 workers on strike

Tyjuanese Taylor

A total of 3,700 union workers are on strike at the Detroit casinos.

They collectively are represented in negotiations by the Detroit Casino Council. The unions are:

  • UNITE HERE Local 24
  • UAW
  • Teamsters Local 1038
  • Operating Engineers Local 324
  • Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters

The DCC is negotiating with the MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown over five core bargaining issues in the new contract. Those are increased wages, health care, retirement benefits, workload reductions and job security from technology advancements.

Tyjuanese Taylor, a slot attendant at MotorCity Casino that has been with the casino for 23 years, says all the workers are seeking are wages that match the rising cost of living.

“It is unfortunate in today’s economy that inflation has risen like it has, so we just want to be able to maintain our wages and our health care that reflects the rise in costs,” Taylor told PlayMichigan. “This was a difficult decision for all of us. We truly believed that some sort of agreement would be reached. Nobody wants to be out here striking, but we have to do it.”

Negotiations still at an impasse

Negotiations on a new contract between the workers and the casinos began in the summer. According to the DCC, over 160 hours in full-table negotiations have been held, along with dozens of subcommittee meetings, since the summer.

Union workers held a vote on Sept. 29, with 99% voting “yes” to authorize a strike by Oct. 16, when the contract expired.

Since then, negotiations have continued to take place, with the DCC saying they were still “far apart” on a new deal.

“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, in a statement. “Our goal is to reach a fair deal, but unfortunately, we’re still far apart. If the companies won’t do better, then we are prepared to strike (Tuesday).”

On Tuesday morning, the casinos began to make official statements on the status of negotiations from their end with the workers set to strike.

“Regarding the status of our negotiations, we’ve made six proposals to the union and our current offer includes the single largest pay increase in the history of MGM Grand Detroit. It is a significant proposal,” said Matt Buckley, President & COO Midwest Group, in a statement.

“We will continue to negotiate with the union to reach an agreement that is good for all parties. The reality is that no one wins in a strike. A strike hurts everyone – from employees and businesses to the community and the economy. We’re working hard to prevent that outcome.”

Workers, casinos disagree on revenue numbers

The DCC has driven home the point of the Detroit casino industry generating $2.27 billion in gaming revenue in 2022. They compare that to 2019, before the pandemic, when the casinos generated $1.45 billion in gaming revenue.

Meanwhile, total wages paid to workers in 2022 were $100 million compared to $134 million in 2019.

However, it should be noted that the DCC’s 2022 number includes online casino revenue. Last year, the Detroit casinos collected $1.26 billion in revenue through retail slots and table games. It also had $19.1 million in revenue from retail sports betting.

Collectively, the online operators attached to the three Detroit casinos (BetMGM, FanDuel and PENN Entertainment) generated $1.18 billion in 2022 through online casino and online sports betting revenue.

It is unclear how much of that revenue the Detroit casinos actually receive in their online partnerships. MGM Grand Detroit noted in their release on the strike that online revenue stays with BetMGM, “it is not MGM Grand Detroit’s money.”

Detroit Casinos could lose over $3 million daily

Throughout 2023, the Detroit casinos have made $853.7 million in revenue through August in slots and table games.

Bottom line, that is an average of $3.5 million per day. Depending on the level the casinos are able to remain open, that is what they could be losing collectively each day in the strike.

Further, broken down by casino, here is what each of the three casinos is bringing in daily:

  • MGM Grand Detroit: $1.65 million
  • MotorCity Casino: $1.06 million
  • Hollywood Casino at Greektown: $801,509

And, that revenue has brought in $178.8 million in tax revenue collectively for the state and the city of Detroit. That equates to over $735,000 a day.

PlayMichigan will stay updated on this strike situation as more develops.

Photo by Drew Ellis / PlayMichigan
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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