Unionized workers at Winnipeg casinos prepare to strike

Strike would take effect on Dec. 23

Unionized workers at three Winnipeg casinos, represented by Unifor Local 144, are poised to strike by Dec. 23 if they do not secure a satisfactory contract with their employer, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries. The union members, who have been without a collective agreement since June 2022, overwhelmingly supported the strike decision, with 98% voting in favour.

The workers include over 750 employees at McPhillips Station Casino, Club Regent Casino, and the Shark Club Casino, covering a range of roles such as dealers, cashiers, slot attendants, security officers, customer service representatives, and trades workers. The primary issue cited is the minimum wage increase of only 1.75% over the past six years.

Lana Payne, Unifor’s National President, expressed dissatisfaction with the current state of negotiations. “The workers deserve a strong collective agreement, not the foot-dragging and disrespect we’re seeing from the company,” Payne stated, urging the management to present a “serious offer.”

Similarly, Unifor’s Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle emphasized the need for a substantial offer from the employer to resume constructive bargaining, saying, “We don’t have endless patience. A serious offer from the employer is required to get bargaining back on track.”

The potential strike, scheduled to commence at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 23, has garnered attention from the new NDP government in Manitoba.

Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Glen Simard, responsible for Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, expressed optimism about reaching a fair deal, commenting, “Over the summer, we saw how the previous government treated their workers with divisive tactics when all workers wanted was a fair deal.”

“This government is listening to the concerns of our public-sector employees. I look forward to a solution that simultaneously demonstrates our respect for workers and our commitment to responsible management of the public purse.”

Reflecting on the recent strike by Liquor Mart workers, who achieved approximately 12% wage increases over four years, Simard highlighted the government’s commitment to respecting public-sector employees and managing public funds responsibly.

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