Strike against Detroit’s casinos now in fifth week

Union workers on casino picket lines are looking for more money and a solution to staffing shortages.

Unionized casino workers rallied in front of MotorCity Casino in Detroit on Nov. 15, 2023.

Unionized casino workers rallied in front of MotorCity Casino in Detroit on Nov. 15, 2023.

As the ratification process for new automotive contracts works towards completion, a strike against MotorCity, MGM Grand Detroit and Hollywood at Greektown casinos is now in its fifth week. With the holidays coming, union leaders say spirits are still high on picket lines.

Gwen Mills is Secretary Treasury for Unite Here — one of the unions representing casino workers under the Detroit Casino Council (DCC). She says represented members are being motivated by the labor movement across the country.

“And when the auto companies can settle a historic contract,” said Mills, “the casino industry in Vegas can settle a historic contract, we say ‘why not here in Detroit?’ Why can’t the casino industry in Detroit settle a historic contract as well?”

Despite the strike, gaming houses in the city brought in more than $80 million in table game revenue during October. AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler says that doesn’t sit well with protestors.

Listen: Strike against Detroit’s casinos enters its fifth week

“That’s the thing I’ve been hearing most about on the picket line,” says Shuler, “is the lack of respect and dignity, seeing workers as expendable when they’re doing more with less.”

Shuler says DCC negotiating teams are looking for more money after making concessions on their most-recent contract three years ago during the pandemic. She adds that workers have been forced to do extra work because staffing has not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Union officials say contract talks are ongoing and that some progress has been made at the bargaining table.

Editor’s note: The Detroit Casino Council represents UAW Local 7777 members. Some employees of WDET are members of UAW Local 1979 — a different bargaining group that’s unaffected by these negotiations.

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  • Alex McLenon
    Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.