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UPDATED: Tentative agreement reached in Detroit casinos strike

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UPDATED: Tentative agreement reached in Detroit casinos strike

Nov 17, 2023 | 11:38 am ET
By Anna Liz Nichols
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Tentative agreement reached in Detroit casinos strike
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March for Workers’ Rights and Economic Justice in Detroit on Oct. 19, 2023 | Ken Coleman

Updated, 12:28 p.m., 11/17/23

After a month-long strike by unionized workers at MGM Grand Detroit, Motor City Casino, and Hollywood Casino at Greektown, the union announced Friday that a tentative agreement has been reached for a new contract.

About 3,700 workers at Detroit’s three major casinos were called on to walk off the job on Oct. 17 after negotiations for a new contract failed. 

The tentative agreement includes an immediate 18% pay increase, on average, and the largest wage increases ever negotiated in the Detroit casino industry’s history, the Detroit Casino Council (DCC) said in a news release Friday. The DCC represents many different kinds of casino workers including valets, food and beverage workers, dealers and more.

Thousands of Detroit casino workers strike over pay, benefits

Other parts of the tentative agreement include retirement increases, no increases in the cost of health care, reductions in workloads, retirement increases and more. 

DCC’s news release included comments from long-time employees at the casinos outlining what the changes could mean for them.

“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. “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.”

Casino workers are represented by the DCC, which is composed of UNITE HERE Local 24, the United Auto Workers, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters. These five unions represent most of the workers at the three casinos in Detroit.

On Wednesday evening, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler joined striking workers at a Motor City Casino rally.

“It’s time for Detroit casinos to quit gambling with their workers’ livelihoods,” Shuler said.

UNITE HERE Local 24 said the tentative agreement was the “[b]est agreement in [the] history of Detroit casino industry,” on social media on Friday

The agreement will have to be voted upon by members.

Leadership at all three casinos issued a joint press release on Friday celebrating the agreement.

“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,” said Matt Buckley, president and COO of Midwest Group, MGM Resorts International.

“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,” MotorCity Casino Hotel President Bruce Dall said.

 “We appreciate the productive and respectful negotiations with the DCC and are eager to welcome back our team members as soon as possible,” said John Drake, vice president and general manager at Hollywood Casino at Greektown.

The strike came a month after the United Auto Workers (UAW) declared a historic strike against the Detroit Three auto manufacturers — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis — all at the same time. It was the first time in the union’s history it went on strike against all three automakers simultaneously and votes on the tentative agreements are taking place. 

The casinos remained open during the strike. However, statistics released by the Michigan Gaming Control Board on Tuesday showed that revenue for in-person gaming at the three casinos were down $20 million in October compared to the same month last year — the lowest month for Detroit casinos since December 2020 when casinos were shut down for most of the month because of COVID-19 restrictions.