Caesars Windsor employees reject contract; continue strike

Employees at Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino in Ontario are giving executives a headache.  They rejected a proposed contract at the beginning of April and now, once again, sent a second draft back to the company for being inadequate.  The employees continue to strike, resulting in the casino being closed and Caesars losing a valuable piece of its revenue. 

The newly revised contract proposal was sent to the casino employees’ Unifor Local 444 last Friday.  53% of the employees rejected the deal, saying that it was virtually the same as the previous proposal, which was rejected by 59% of the employees.  The casino is operated by Caesars Resorts but owned by the state-run Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. 

The union’s president, Dave Cassidy, had worked for two days on the contract negotiations, and appeared to be somewhat deflated over the rejection.  He told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, "I don’t know where we’re at right now.”

Caesars Entertainment Regional President Kevin Laforet indicated that the casino will remain closed and that executives have no plans to try and renegotiate further.  “We are incredibly disappointed in the outcome of today’s vote which was fully endorsed by both the Unifor National and Local 444 bargaining teams,” he said before adding, “The agreement is more than fair and sustainable. I personally want to apologize for the continued inconvenience this causes our customers. The long-term effect on our business goes well-beyond revenue loss and is immeasurable.”

Most staff at the casino currently earn about $13.40 an hour.  The new contract would have bumped the salary up by $2.25 over four years, countering the proposed $1.75 over three years from the first round of negotiations.  Signing bonuses would have also been offered to all employees – $1,252 (CAD$1,600) for full-time, $936 (CAD$1,200) for part-time and $528 (CAD$675) for "casual" employees.  It would appear that these extra dividends still weren’t enough to appease the staff. 

All events and hotel reservations have been canceled through the end of the month.  In 2004, a similar dispute resulted in a strike that lasted 42 days.  

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