Live Updates: Detroit Casino Workers At MGM Grand Detroit Reach Deal

Written By Drew Ellis on October 20, 2023 - Last Updated on January 5, 2024
Image of Detroit casino workers on strike for a story providing live updates on the strike

During the Detroit casino workers’ strike, PlayMichigan was providing live updates.

On Tuesday, Oct. 17, 3,700 union workers began picketing the three Detroit casinos after a new contract was not reached. They sought a new deal with five core bargaining issues, including better wages.

A deal was reached and ratified between union workers and the MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown on Sunday, Nov. 19. A deal between the workers and MGM Grand Detroit was reached on Dec. 2

Overall, the strike lasted 47 days and looks to have cost the three casinos around $50 million in revenue.

Here’s a timeline of what took place during the strike:

Dec. 12: Detroit casinos lose about $50 million during strike

November proved to not be as impactful a loss of revenue for the Detroit casinos as expected. The three combined for $79.1 million in revenue from slots and table games, as well as sports betting.

Between the $79.1 million in November and the $82.8 million from October, that puts it at $51.1 million below the average the casinos were averaging prior to the strike ($106.5 million per month).

The $51.1 million is just 4.6% of what the three casinos have earned for 2023.

With the strike now in the past, the Detroit casinos can go back to pushing for revenue months over $100 million.

Dec. 2: MGM Grand Detroit workers approve contract

On Saturday, MGM Grand Detroit union workers voted “yes” to approve the new agreed-upon contract, thus ending their strike after 47 days.

The new contract is similar to the agreement we saw with MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown workers, but includes a bonus for the second year of the contract.

With a new deal in place and ratified, MGM Grand Detroit workers will begin to return to their jobs on Monday as the casino gets to returning to its full operations.

Dec. 1: Tentative agreement reached with MGM Grand Detroit

Negotiations this week between representatives from the MGM Grand Detroit and striking employees appear to have been fruitful.

A tentative agreement was reached between the two and the union employees have begun going through the ratification process. That includes a vote to agree to the deal.

Details on the new agreement have not been provided as of yet in terms of what will differ in their contract compared to their peers at the other casinos.

MGM Grand Detroit employees were the only ones to vote “no” to the previous agreement on Nov. 17, which was accepted by employees at MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown.

MGM Grand Detroit union employees have been on strike for 46 days as of Friday.

Nov. 29: Negotiations resume for MGM Grand Detroit employees

As the strike hits 44 days for MGM Grand Detroit union employees, they are getting back to the negotiating table.

The Detroit Casino Council will be in negotiations with representatives from the MGM Grand Detroit today and Thursday, with a federal mediator being present as well. This according to the DCC representatives.

MGM Grand Detroit remains the lone Detroit casino without its employees back at work after their union members voted “no” against the tentative agreement made between the DCC and casinos. MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown employees both voted “yes” to the deal and returned to work last week.

Issues keeping MGM Grand Detroit workers from agreeing to the deal with contract length and wages.

Nov. 28: Cold starting to play its part in the strike

As MGM Grand Detroit workers continue to strike, they are facing the most severe weather conditions they have yet during their effort.

Detroit saw significant snowfall on Sunday and temperatures were below freezing for much of the day, carrying into Monday as well

Winds added to the overall difficulties for the picketing workers that continue to see a new contract.

FOX 2 Detroit spoke with some of the workers still picketing on Monday.

“My feet are frozen,” Lori Froh, a striking worker, said. “I don’t like that feeling – I have hand warmers inside my feet.”

Temperatures are set to rise by the end of the week, but will still be below 30 degrees for most of Tuesday and Wednesday.

Nov. 27: Split deals falls on union leadership

The Detroit casino workers strike is not quite over and that is due to the unified front of the workers not staying unified when it came time to vote.

Negotiating as one as the Detroit Casino Council, a deal was met with the collective Detroit casinos. But, when it came time to vote, one set of workers were not satisfied.

Now MGM Grand Detroit workers are past 40 days of striking and that falls on union leadership to not have everyone on the same page.

If a better deal is struck for just the MGM Grand Detroit workers, that leaves workers at MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown now behind their peers that they picketed with for a month.

It’s unclear how this shakes out, but what started as a unified fight has now diverged into multiple paths.

Nov. 21: Hollywood Casino at Greektown reopening plans

Now that the strike is ending at two of the Detroit casinos, they can return to operating at full capacity.

Hollywood Casino at Greektown has announced that in the coming days you can expect to see all aspects of the casino return.

  • Valet services return at 7 a.m. on Tuesday
  • Poker Room reopens at Noon on Tuesday
  • 313 Burger Bar opens at 11 a.m. on Tuesday and returns to normal hours
  • VIP Lounge will open daily, with normal hours starting Wednesday
  • The Sportsbook Restaurant (formerly Barstool Sportsbook) will reopen Thursday at 11 a.m. and return to normal hours
  • Prism will open on Friday at 5 p.m. and return to normal hours
  • Bar and cocktail services will be available again starting on Tuesday.

Nov. 20: MGM Grand comments on ‘no’ vote by union

The MGM Grand Detroit remains the lone Detroit casino still without its staff working.

Of the 3,700 members of the Detroit Casino Council, about 1,600 are with the MGM Grand Detroit. While some did vote “yes” to the contract offer, the majority still said “no.”

PlayMichigan gained access to a letter sent out to the MGM Grand workers by President & COO of Midwest Group Matt Buckley.

In summary, Buckley expressed disappointment by the vote given the other workers at the two casinos voted to approve the deal. He also offered that any striking workers that voted “yes” could return to work and cross the picket line.

Nov. 19: Union votes ‘yes’ on new deal at two of three casinos

The DCC held votes for their union workers at each of the three respective Detroit casinos on the new agreed upon deal.

At MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown, the union voted “yes” to the deal. That represents 2,100 of the 3,700 striking employees.

However, at the MGM Grand Detroit, the union still is a “no” vote.

Striking union members returned to work at the two casinos on Sunday night at 9 p.m. But, the striking continues at the MGM Grand Detroit as the sides must return to the bargaining table.

Nov. 17: Tentative deal reached; strike could soon be over

Thirty-two days after the strike began, the two sides in the labor dispute announced Friday they had reached a tentative deal.

The unions will continue to strike until their members ratify the proposed settlement with the three casinos: MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown.

The Detroit Casino Council that collectively is the five unions representing the 3,700 striking workers, reported that “historic” five-year tentative agreement that includes “the largest wage increases ever negotiated in the Detroit casino industry’s 23-year history.” Specifically, the deal includes:

  • An immediate 18% pay raise on average.
  • No health care cost increases for employees.
  • Workload reductions and other job protections.
  • First-ever technology contract language.
  • Retirement increases.

Nov. 17: Striking impact more than gaming revenue

As the strike hits its one-month mark, the impact it is having on casinos is growing.

Aside from the large amount of revenue lost from gaming, casinos are seeing notable hits to their other revenue sources.

Multiple fundraisers have had to cancel their events at the respective casinos due to staffing shortages and not wanting to cross the picket lines.

Valet services remain out, while casinos are also limited in their food and beverage offerings.

Altogether, this is costing more than just the $25 million the casinos lost in gaming revenue for October.

Nov. 16: AFL-CIO President joins picketing workers

The striking Detroit casino workers were joined by a AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler on Wednesday night during their latest rally and picketing at MotorCity Casino.

Shuler’s organization represents more than 12.5 million union workers and she wanted to show her support for the Detroit Casino Council.

“Union casino workers kept this industry alive during the pandemic,” Shuler said in a press release “But despite Detroit casino owners making record profits, they are refusing to take care of their workers. This is unjust, unfair and unethical. It is time to pay the workers who keep you in business a living wage, to provide health care that allows workers to care for themselves and their families and to guarantee the job security their employees have earned. We stand in solidarity with our union brothers and sisters on the strike line as they fight for the contract they deserve.”

Thursday concludes a full month of this Detroit casino strike. The strike began on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at noon.

Nov. 15: Detroit casinos lose out on $25 million in October

After taking a deeper dive into the October Detroit casino revenue report, we see they lost out on $25 million in revenue due to the workers’ strike.

With over $24 million lost in revenue from slots and table games, as well as about $1 million in sports betting revenue, we see the impact the strike is having.

In October, the strike only accounted for 14 days. That means a full month of a strike could lead to over $50 million in lost revenue.

Of the three casinos, MGM Grand Detroit suffered the biggest losses in revenue, dropping nearly $12 million in gaming revenue and hundreds of thousands in sports betting revenue.

Nov. 14: Strike leads to lowest casino revenue since 2020

We have our first indicator of how much the strike is impacting revenue for the three Detroit casinos.

On Tuesday, the MGCB reported October revenue for the casinos and it came in at $81.7 million for slots and table games. That’s the lowest gaming revenue total for a month since December 2020, when the casinos were closed for most of the month due to the pandemic.

The revenue is also a 19% decline from October 2022 when they made $100.8 million. That also led to $3.9 million in state and city of Detroit tax revenue lost compared to a year ago.

Retail sports betting handle was also down 23% from a year ago to $18.1 million in October. The revenue from retail sports betting was down 46.9% to from $2.1 million in October 2022 to $1.1 million last month.

Nov. 13: Could online boycott make an impact?

The DCC electing to now turn its attention to the online partners of the Detroit casinos says a lot.

It likely means that the two sides are far apart on an agreement and the union workers want to up their pressure.

While the online casinos and online sportsbooks only provide a small percentage of revenue to the Detroit casinos, the parent companies of the online operators could take more notice to the situation.

MGM Resorts International has already had multiple issues impact business in the past months and having BetMGM Michigan take any hits as the leading iGaming operator in the state isn’t another one it needs.

PENN Entertainment is set to launch ESPN BET on Tuesday. Having any kind of boycott by strike supporters is not what it needs. A launch is a big tone-setter for an online operator.

FanDuel and its parent company Flutter don’t carry much influence on MotorCity Casino, but the Ilitch family probably doesn’t want to see FanDuel’s operations influenced by a problem at home base.

Should this online boycott have a measure of success, it could force the casinos back to the table quickly.

Nov. 12: Hollywood Casino upset with DCC fires

The Detroit Casino Council recently took steps toward ensuring their picketing workers would be able to stay warm during the strike as temperatures dropped.

Part of that was receiving permission from the local fire departments to light bonfires in the areas they picket.

One casino is speaking out on that decision, as John Drake, the VP & General Manager of Hollywood Casino at Greektown is disappointed with the move. Drake cites chants the picketers use of “burn it down” as reason they shouldn’t be allowed to start bonfires.

“We are incredibly disappointed with the fire department’s irresponsible choice to allow the Detroit Casino Council to light bonfires adjacent to our facility,” Drake said in a statement to PlayMichigan. “While we continue to have constructive discussions with their leadership to reach a resolution to the work stoppage, striking members have regularly chanted “burn it down” as they picket our building. This reckless decision could endanger our team members, customers, and neighboring businesses, as well as the broader public.”

The bonfires were part of the DCC’s “Detroit Strikers Bill of Rights,” which they appealed to city hall for last week.

Nov. 11: DCC calls for boycott of online casinos

As the Detroit casino workers’ strike lingers on, the Detroit Casino Council is now calling on the public to boycott the online casinos and sportsbooks associated with the three Detroit casinos.

BetMGM is the online partner for MGM Grand Detroit, FanDuel is the partner for MotorCity Casino and Barstool is the online partner for Hollywood Casino at Greektown.

On Tuesday, ESPN Bet is set to launch in replace of Barstool Sportsbook while Hollywood Casino online will eventually replace the Barstool casino option.

“Online sports betting and online casino platforms like FanDuel, ESPN BET, and BetMGM are critical sources of revenue for the companies that operate Detroit’s three casinos,” said Nia Winston, President of UNITE HERE Local 24 in a press release. “Workers have been outside the physical locations 24/7 since going out on strike three weeks ago to win a fair contract. Now, they’re calling on the public not to cross their virtual picket line either, and to boycott these apps until the strike is settled.”

The Detroit casinos see limited revenue from what is generated by these online operations, but impact to the online operations could force the parent companies to act. MGM Resorts International owns BetMGM and the MGM Grand Detroit while PENN Entertainment owns Hollywood Casino at Greektown and the new ESPN BET.

Nov. 10: Las Vegas avoids labor strike

Another potential labor strike nearly impacted Las Vegas casinos, but the union came to an agreement with the hotels just prior to the deadline.

Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts all reached agreements with over 35,000 union workers that make up the Culinary Workers and Bartenders Unions in Las Vegas.

While negotiations are still taking place with Hilton properties, the union workers at those hotels are working through a temporary contract extension.

This deal forced MGM Resorts into some urgency, as it is already dealing with the worker strike at the MGM Grand Detroit here in Michigan.

Nov. 9: Negotiation numbers leaked

For the first time since the Detroit casino workers’ strike began on Oct. 17, we have an idea of what the union workers are seeking.

In leaked communication to the union workers, confirmed reports of what the casinos are offering were released.

The Detroit casinos lowered an offer of health care payments from $60 to $40. However, the union is looking for that to hit $0.

When it comes to wages, the casinos offered $1.95 per hour increase in the first year of the new contract. The union is looking to get that to $3.25 per hour.

The union states that they are still “in flux on the core economic issues,” but the bargaining sessions are ongoing.

Nov. 8: Projecting Detroit casino October revenue losses

In the coming weeks, the Michigan Gaming Control Board will release the October revenue report for the three Detroit casinos.

With the workers’ strike taking up 15 days of October, PlayMichigan projects that the Detroit casinos are likely to see their lowest revenue total since the pandemic.

With a projected $1.5-$2.5 million in average daily revenue loss, the Detroit casinos are shaping up to make below $90 million in revenue for the first time since February 2021.

Worst-case scenarios could see the casinos dropping below $70 million in gaming revenue for October.

Nov. 7: Workers call for “Detroit Strikers Bill of Rights”

On Tuesday, Detroit casino workers who are on strike returned to city hall to call for a “Detroit Strikers Bill of Rights.”

The measure is to help ensure health and safety of picketers with the temperatures dropping.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, workers are sharing their stories and presenting their bill of rights with provisions designed to keep protestors safe, such as the right to move safely and the right to take measures to stay warm.

Those measures to stay warm include being able to use propane heaters and controlled fires while picketing.

Nov. 6: Will strike lead to record online revenue?

Michigan online casino revenue continues to make big splashes each month.

September’s number saw it approach the all-time monthly revenue record of $171.8 million.

With the strike taking up half of the month of October, will Michigan see a new record when the Michigan Gaming Control Board releases its October report later this month?

MGM Grand customers who don’t want to cross the picket line could be driven to BetMGM Michigan to continue play. The same could be said for FanDuel (MotorCity Casino) and Barstool (Greektown).

All signs are pointing to a record month in October, so we take a look at a projected number to look out for.

Nov. 6: Donation drive begins with calls of support

The Detroit casino workers who are on strike had a formal beginning to their donation drive on Monday afternoon in front of Hollywood Casino at Greektown.

Donation boxes have been set up in front of all three Detroit casinos as striking workers are asking for warm winter clothes, non-perishable food items, diapers, baby formula, feminine hygiene products, cleaning supplies and other essentials to aid them as the strike prolongs.

“The women and men on strike—braving the cold every day to improve jobs in this city—are Detroit’s heroes,” said Mary Sheffield, President of the Detroit City Council, during Monday’s event. “These companies underestimate your toughness, but that’s a big mistake. Today, I call on everyone in this community to join me in supporting Detroit’s heroes in their fight for respect and a decent way of life. I am behind you no matter how long it takes.”

Striking workers also spoke and asked for the community’s help in supporting them as they continue to fight for a new contract.

“Shame on these companies. They’re sitting on billions of dollars and they hope to starve us out, but in Detroit we do right by each other,” said Allison Grubba, a bartender at MotorCity Casino with UNITE HERE Local 24 and member of the Detroit Casino Council Negotiating Committee. “No matter how long these strikes take, we will take care of each other, whether that’s supporting strikers in Detroit’s casinos or our union family at Blue Cross/Blue Shield.”

Nov. 5: No update from bargaining session

There’s good news, bad news and no news when it comes to the Detroit casino workers strike.

The good news is that the Detroit Casino Council and casinos did hold bargaining sessions this week, just the second session they’ve had since the strike began.

The bad news is that there is no news when it comes to how the sessions went. Neither side has made any public comments on the matter to give any indication if the strike is closer to ending.

Monday will mark the 21st day of the strike.

Nov. 4: Donation drive for picketing workers

The Detroit casino workers who are on strike have put together a donation drive.

With the strike approaching a fourth week and colder weather moving in, the DCC is asking for donations of jackets, gloves and other winter gear.

They are also seeking donations of diapers, baby formula, hygiene products, cleaning products and non-perishable food items for those picketing workers trying to make ends meet during the strike.

Drop-off locations for the donations can be done at the picketing locations in front of each of the three Detroit casinos.

Nov. 3: Detroit workers get support from other US unions

As the strike prolongs, PlayMichigan spoke with a pair of union workers that are part of the 3,700 on strike.

They stressed the union remains strong despite colder weather creeping in, and are more committed to getting the contract they desire.

As Detroit casino workers continue their fight, they are receiving positive messages of support and encouragement from local unions in other states. UNITE HERE Local 26 from Rhode Island and Massachusetts took photos from work holding signs that say “Solidarity With Detroit Casino Workers On Strike.”

The same goes for the Culinary Workers Union 226, which is currently fighting for a contract in Las Vegas. They have authorized a strike for Friday, Nov. 10 if they don’t get a new contract. They represent 35,000 workers at Las Vegas hotels and casinos.

Nov. 2: Workers committed as strike enters third week

Striking union workers have now surpassed two weeks of picketing. That is a big milestone in a strike as it surpasses a paycheck length for the majority of them.

It’s been a trying process for them, as the unknown of when the strike will end is now combining with colder weather as they strike.

Alicia Weaver, a 60-year-old guest room attendant at MGM Grand Detroit, who has been employed for 24 years, gave her thoughts.

“I’m a little stressed out, but I mean, it’s one day at a time. As they say, ‘one day longer, one day stronger.’ We are just trying to just stay together, but most importantly, we’re just trying to keep everybody lifted up,” Weaver said. “Some of them are struggling, of course, especially with the elements now being cold outside, but everybody’s still strong and staying on the same page. We just want to win and get a good contract. So with that being said, everybody’s kind of just making the adjustments they need to make.”

Weaver admitted that she didn’t expect the strike to last long, thinking the casinos would be quicker to want a resolution. Despite that, she says the union remains strong and committed to getting what they are fighting for.

“I personally thought maybe a week,” Weaver said of what she expected for the strike. “I didn’t think it would be this long. I thought the casinos wouldn’t want it to get to this point. But, as they say, ‘anything worth fighting for, you have to make sacrifices to get it.’”

PlayMichigan will have more on the striking workers Friday, Nov. 3.

Nov. 1: Bargaining Session/Detroit casino workers appear in Lansing

Wednesday was an important day in the ongoing strike as the union workers and hotel were set to have a bargaining session to see if they could get closer to an agreement on a return to work.

On Tuesday a select group of the striking casino workers went to the state capitol asking lawmakers for their support.

Over 300 workers appeared in Lansing, appealing to leaders to join them on the picket line and allow Detroit to raise its minimum wage by repealing the “Death Star” bill, SB171.

The bill 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.

WILX TV 10 in Lansing spoke with some of the workers, along with PlayMichigan’s Drew Ellis on the current situation.

Oct. 31: Clearing up Detroit casino revenue numbers

One of the big talking points of this casino workers’ strike is what Detroit casinos made in 2022 revenue.

The Detroit Casino Council has touted the casinos as making a record $2.27 billion in gambling revenue for 2022.

That number isn’t actually a fair representation.

The DCC is incorporating some of the online casino and online sports betting revenue into their figure, which the three Detroit casinos only see a very small percentage of.

In 2022, the three Detroit casinos had $1.28 billion in revenue from slots, table games, poker and sports betting. That’s still well shy of the $1.45 billion record of 2019.

With $1.18 billion in online revenue generated by the three casinos’ online partners, the retail casinos would need to receive 14.4% of that to surpass $1.45 billion in 2022 revenue. It would need 84% to hit $2.27 billion.

Oct. 30: Striking workers tailgate for Monday Night Football

With the Detroit Lions hosting the Las Vegas Raiders for Monday Night Football, more tourists may be visiting Detroit this evening.

The striking casino workers will be out in full force to encourage the people coming into the city to not cross the picket lines.

Strikers will be outfitted in Lions fear while cooking up some BBQ as they continue their efforts on a new contract with the three Detroit casinos.

Oct. 29: Auto workers strike first deal

The United Auto Workers were the first of three Detroit industry worker groups to strike, but they are finally seeing some headway in their efforts.

Late last week the UAW reached a tentative contract agreement with Ford on a four-year deal that is pending union member approval.

UAW members have been on strike for nearly six weeks with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. The agreement with Ford could help deals get reached with the other two automakers.

Despite the agreement being tentative, the UAW asked on workers to return to Ford to help put pressure on the other two automakers.

During the first week of the casino workers’ strike, they joined with striking auto workers and health insurance workers to take part in a solidarity march in downtown Detroit. The march was billed as “Detroit’s March for Workers’ Rights and Economic Justice.”

Oct. 28: Detroit’s first casino workers strike

The current strike by five unions of Detroit casino workers is the first Detroit has seen since it started operating three commercial casinos back in 1999.

While this strike is a first of its kind in Detroit, we have seen casino workers strike in the past in Atlantic City.

In 2004, a casino strike was held for a better contract and lasted 34 days. Caesars indicated that the 2004 strike had $10 million in impact on its Caesars and Bally’s casinos in Atlantic City.

In 2016, casino union workers went on strike at the Trump Taj Mahal casino when they were requested to operate without health care or pension benefits. The strike lasted 100 days with the casino shutting down, eventually being sold to Hard Rock International and being reopened in 2018 as Hard Rock Atlantic City.

Oct. 27: Online casinos could play a huge role in strike

According to a PlayMichigan analysis, the growing prevalence of online casinos in Michigan will have a major impact on the Detroit casino strike.

The three casinos remain open. But recent PlayMichigan estimates are that business is down around 50% costing the casinos somewhere between $1.5 million and $2.5 million daily.

But, two of those three casinos — MGM Grand Detroit and Hollywood Casino at Greektown — are still able to conduct business online and, perhaps, make up some of the losses.

MGM owns and operates BetMGM Casino Michigan.

PENN Entertainment owns and operates both the Hollywood Casino at Greektown and the Barstool Sportsbook, which will soon be rebranded as ESPN Bet.

That means those casino companies may not be in a hurry to settle the strike since money is still flowing. That gives them leverage at the bargaining table.

This is not to suggest this is the casino companies’ intent or plan, nor are we suggesting they may be less interested in ending the strike.

But, there’s no denying retail casinos are costly to operate. Driving more business to online casinos would increase profitability.

Oct. 26: Detroit casinos losing $1.5-2.5 million daily

As the strike continues into its second week, we have a better idea of what the three casinos are collectively losing each day in revenue.

Averaging $3.5 million for 2023 prior to the strike, and with the union workers making up about 75% of the 4,900 Detroit casino workforce, that stretches these casinos a bit thin.

Sources close to the casinos indicate they are operating at about 50% capacity with the thin staff, so that means they are collectively losing out on $1.5-2.5 million each day in revenue.

Consequently, that means the state of Michigan could be missing out on about $200,000 a day in tax revenue. The city of Detroit could be missing out on about $300,000 a day in tax revenue.

Oct. 25: Detroit City Council supports strike

The Detroit Casino Council flooded the Detroit City Council on Tuesday seeking support for their ongoing strike effort.

Council chambers were packed with the union workers that are on strike as representatives expressed their cause to the city council.

The Detroit City Council expressed their support in return, urging them to continue the fight. A resolution was proposed to support the workers and was unanimously approved by the council.

Oct. 24: DCC heads to City Hall for support

The striking casino workers will be heading to Detroit’s City Council on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. and asking for a statement of support for their current strike.

The five unions that make up the Detroit Casino Council will take their picketing efforts to City Council chambers and the Spirit of Detroit monument to further promote their efforts for a new contract that meets their needs.

Oct. 23: Strike still going strong for Detroit casino workers

There were no major updates over the weekend as the unionized Detroit casino workers remain on strike.

Late last week the casino workers joined with striking auto workers and health insurance workers to take part in a march in downtown Detroit. The march was billed as “Detroit’s March for Workers’ Rights and Economic Justice.”

Oct. 22: Closed poker rooms drive players to Caesars Windsor

With poker rooms currently closed at MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino due to staffing limitations for the strike, customers could be crossing the border to get in their live poker.

Caesars Windsor has a poker room that could be seeing an uptick in play due to the closed poker rooms in Detroit. The casino could see an overall boost for those just not wanting to cross a picket line during the strike.

Caesars Windsor is located just five miles from MGM Grand Detroit.

Union workers committed to their goals

As the strike enters its first weekend, the five unions that make up the Detroit Casino Council are committed to their goals.

Specifically, they seek a new contract that will focus on five key issues. Those issues are increased wages, health care, retirement benefits, workload reductions and job security from technology advancements.

Today, groups are picketing outside the MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown.

Despite the sacrifice currently being made, the workers remain united to fight for what they believe in.

“We are very unified, very unified,” Tyjuanese Taylor, a 23-year employee at MotorCity Casino told PlayMichigan. “We are all fighting for what we deserve and fighting for each other.”

Also, the unions have set up a strike fund to try and help their workers sustain the costs of losses while not working.

“Just like we always do, as union members and leaders, we take care of our own,” Nia Winston, President of the Unite Here Local 24 of Michigan and Ohio, said during a press conference last week. “We do recognize going on strike is a significant sacrifice. So, we don’t take that lightly. Each union with their international unions has their own process of how and what those benefit looks like. But we will continue, as always, to take care of our members regardless.”

Detroit casino union workers begin strike Oct. 17

On Tuesday, Oct. 17 at noon, the five unions that make up the Detroit Casino Council began their strike outside the three casinos.

The five unions that make up 3,700 workers are:

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

The union contracts with the casinos expired on Oct. 16 at 11:59 p.m. but was briefly extended until noon on Oct. 17.

Negotiations began during the summer, with over 160 hours in full-table negotiations, along with dozens of subcommittee meetings according to the DCC.

On Tuesday, representation for the MGM Grand Detroit released a statement saying they made a significant offer to the union.

“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.”

The DCC felt negotiations were still “far apart” as of Tuesday.

Detroit casinos staying open during strike

Despite the loss of work staff, the three Detroit casinos all remain open during the strike.

Each of the three locations will be limited in what they offer, but still provide a wide variety of slots and table games.

The MGM Grand Detroit was continuing to express it would allow employees from the union to work during the strike if they so choose.

“We will continue to offer employees work, and to the extent employees represented by the union choose to participate in the strike, we will take whatever lawful action is necessary to fill shifts and continue providing our customers with entertainment and service,” Buckley said.

“Although employees represented by the union have the right both to strike and to picket, no one can prevent you from coming to work, threaten you with violence, or interfere with you when you arrive and depart from the property. If you are the target of any such conduct, please report it to Security or Human Resources immediately.”

Through August of this year, the three Detroit casinos were averaging $3.5 million per day in revenue through slots and table games. That was equating to roughly $735,000 a day in tax revenue for the state of Michigan and city of Detroit.

Photo by Drew Ellis / PlayMichigan
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is currently the Lead Writer of He was the former 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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