Detroit Casino Workers Reach Historic Agreement, Strike Continues at MGM Grand

Unionized workers at two of the city’s major casinos have ratified a landmark five-year deal, marking the end of a 34-day strike. This historic decision, however, contrasts with the ongoing strike at the third major casino, MGM Grand Detroit, where workers have rejected the proposed contract.

The Detroit Casino Council, a collective representing five unions, reached a tentative agreement on November 17, following a month-long strike that began on October 17. This strike, a response to the expiration of the previous contract, was a significant demonstration of workers’ demands for better pay and working conditions.

The agreement, affecting about 2,800 members at Hollywood Casino at Greektown and MotorCity Casino, was ratified on Sunday. These workers will see substantial improvements in their compensation and working conditions. The deal includes an immediate $3 per hour raise, amounting to an 18% increase in the first year, and totaling $5 per hour over the contract’s duration. This raise is the largest in the over two-decade history of Detroit’s casino industry.

Furthermore, the agreement ensures stability in employee health costs and introduces reduced workloads, particularly benefiting housekeeping and other departments impacted by post-pandemic staff reductions. Notably, the contract also features protections against job disruptions due to new technology, including advance notification, training for new roles, as well as healthcare and severance pay for those displaced by technological advancements. Additionally, the agreement introduces a 401(k) retirement plan with an employer match program and recognizes Juneteenth as a paid holiday, reflecting a growing acknowledgment of this significant day in African American history.

In contrast, over 900 unionized workers at MGM Grand Detroit have rejected the contract offer, indicating a continuation of their strike for better terms. The ongoing dispute highlights the complexities and varying conditions across Detroit’s casino industry.

The strike had a noticeable impact on the casinos’ revenue in October, underscoring the essential role these workers play in the industry. The Detroit Casino Council, comprising Unite Here Local 24, UAW, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, represents a diverse workforce, including roles in food and beverage, housekeeping, retail, gaming, and engineering.

This development is a significant milestone in Detroit’s labor history, demonstrating the power of collective bargaining and the ongoing struggle for fair labor practices in the casino industry. The contrast between the two ratified agreements and the ongoing strike at MGM Grand Detroit serves as a reminder of the varied challenges workers face in their fight for equitable working conditions.

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