Gateway Casinos strikers find a friend in the courts

Last week, Canada-based Gateway Casinos decided to try and sue strikers in court, arguing that they were interfering with the company's operations, as well as intimidating patrons and employees and trespassing.  A judge received the case, listened patiently and then issued his decision.  He sent the casino operator packing, saying that the strikers did not commit any violations. 

Gateway entered a video presentation of a few short recordings of the picket line that were taken between September 10-12.  The video was meant to impress upon the judge how the strikers were interfering as they slowly walked across property lines at the Penticton Cascades Casino.  This, argued the casino, was a form of blockade that disrupted the casino's operations.

According to Justice Michael Tammen, “The picketing behavior of the union thus far has been generally peaceful and has not strayed into unlawful conduct. As noted earlier in this judgment, if the picketing results in an actual blockade of the parking lot entrances, injunctive relief would follow. Similarly, if the picketers’ behavior escalates into tortious conduct of any variety, the court would intervene. We have not yet reached that juncture.”

The strikers, which represent the BC Government and Services Employees Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers Canad Union Local No. 401, have been in a standoff with Gateway since the end of June.  They are holding picket lines at four different casino properties in an effort to have the casino increase employee wages and offer a more secure workplace environment.  The most recent negotiations, which took place in September, failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

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