The Detroit casino workers’ 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 Detroit Casino Council, which 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.
The strike, which included casino dealers, housekeepers and other cleaning staff, food and beverage workers, valets, engineers, and more, began on Oct. 17.
Earlier this week, the Michigan Gaming Control Board issued Detroit casino revenue for October. Even with the strike only impacting half of the month, PlayMichigan calculated that, collectively, the three casinos lost $25 million compared to average monthly totals of 2023. Similar losses are expected for November.
Three casinos report being pleased with the tentative agreement
Representatives for the three Detroit casinos — — all reported they were pleased with the agreement.
“We are thrilled that a tentative agreement has been reached, marking a positive step forward in our union negotiations with the Detroit Casino Council,” said Bruce Dall, President of MotorCity Casino Hotel, in a press release. “We take pride in providing exceptional jobs and benefits that support and reward our dedicated workforce, and we look forward to ratification of the deal.”
“We are happy that a mutually beneficial agreement was reached that positively positions our team members and business for success well into the future,” added John Drake, Vice President and General Manager at Hollywood Casino at Greektown. “We appreciate the productive and respectful negotiations with the DCC and are eager to welcome back our team members as soon as possible.”
And from Matt Buckley, President and COO, Midwest Group, MGM Resorts International: “We’re pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the DCC on a new contract that ends the strike while giving a historic pay increase to our DCC-represented employees. We look forward to welcoming our DCC-represented employees back to MGM Grand Detroit.”
Striking worker: Agreement rewards the sacrifice casino works made during pandemic
The Detroit Casino Council represents:
- UNITE HERE Local 24
- UAW Local 7777
- Teamsters Local 1038
- Operating Engineers Local 324
- Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.
Milledge McCaster has been an engineer at Hollywood at Greektown for 14 years. He is a member of the Operating Engineers Local 324.
“This historic agreement rewards the sacrifice that casino workers made throughout the pandemic,” McCaster said in a press release. “We set a new standard with major wage increases and ground-breaking wins like first-ever workplace technology language and other job protections that will empower workers to have a say in the future of work in this industry.”
Alicia Weaver has been a guest room attendant for 24 years at MGM Casino. She is a member of UNITE HERE Local 24. Weaver said the agreement makes her feel proud to work in Detroit’s casinos once again.
“Cleaning hotel rooms is a really tough job that gets tougher every year, so the fixes we made in this contract to reduce my daily workload mean less strain on my body and more energy for my family when I get home from work,” she said in the release. “Everyone on both sides worked hard to get this done.”
Healthcare was key component of workers’ demands
One of the major issues, beyond wages, was healthcare. Initially, the casinos wanted workers to pay $60 per month to maintain health care. Last week, the Detroit casinos lowered an offer of healthcare payments from $60 to $40. However, the union fought — and, apparently, won — to reduce that cost to $0.
“We fought to defend our healthcare and win historic wages, and we won,” said Terri Sykes, a dealer at MotorCity Casino for 24 years and President of UAW Local 7777, in the release. “As a two-time breast-cancer survivor, I feel relieved knowing we have protected our healthcare with no increased costs. We stood strong—five unions united—showing it’s possible to win big when workers do brave things and stick together.”
Tavera McCree, a valet cashier at Hollywood Casino at Greektown and a member of Teamsters Local 1038, said the strike, “showed the casino industry and the world just what Detroit’s casino workers are made of.”
“This is a defining moment for workers in Detroit and nationwide,” she added. “The gains we have made will change the lives of so many families who are living paycheck to paycheck. I would like to thank everyone who stood strong on the picket line to make this win possible.”