Striking Detroit Casino Workers Appeal In Person to Michigan Legislators

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Over 300 union members now on strike at Detroit’s casinos traveled to Michigan’s state capital this week to curry support among legislators.

Striking Detroit casino workers on the steps of the Michigan state capitol building, pictured above. They are now in the third week of their strike. (Image: WXYZ)

The workers held a rally at the capitol building in Lansing on Tuesday. They also lobbied state legislators.

We’re asking Michigan leaders to join us on the picket line because the wages we receive absolutely do not keep up with the rising cost of living,” Terri Smith, a table games dealer at Hollywood Casino at Greektown and member of UAW Local 777, said in a union statement.

Shataya Thompson, a valet cashier at MotorCity Casino and a member of Teamsters Local 1038, added that, “We’re asking our elected officials to understand that all we want is a fair contract.”

Starting on Oct. 17, some 3,700 workers at MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown went out on strike after their current contract expired. They are seeking higher wages and improved job security.

So far, there’s no word of new statements of support for the union from the state’s political leaders.

But last month, Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, D, told a rally of striking workers in Detroit, including those who work at the casinos, that he and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D, “stand with you. Because everything that every Michigander is thankful for came from a union.”

Minimum Wage

While at the capitol on Tuesday, casino workers advocated for a bill, SB 171, that could lead to a raise in the minimum wage in some Michigan towns and cities.

If enacted, it would let local officials increase the minimum wage in their communities to an amount higher than the statewide rate. 

Currently, Michigan’s statewide minimum wage is $10.10 an hour.

City Council Solidarity

Tuesday’s trip to Lansing is the second recent visit by striking casino workers to government assemblies.

Last week, the Detroit City Council unanimously passed a resolution that supports the workers.

Much to the delight of approximately 700 union members attending the council meeting, local officials approved the resolution that said they stand “in solidarity with striking Detroit casino workers.”

The workers are now in the third week of their work stoppage. The union and management reportedly are close to an agreement, according to statements made by striking workers to Michigan radio station WSJM.

The workers are represented by the Detroit Casino Council (DCC). It’s made up of members from Unite Here Local 24, the UAW, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.

Union members work in food and beverage, housekeeping, retail, slots and table games, and engineering sectors.

The city’s three casinos remain open during the strike. But some services at the gaming properties are curtailed.

In a statement this week, Hollywood Casino at Greektown told Detroit TV station WXYZ:

We are disappointed by the decision of the Detroit Casino Council as we have made generous, progressive settlement offers that position our team members and business for sustainable success. We will remain open for business to serve our customers and are committed to continued good-faith bargaining with the Detroit Casino Council to resolve the issues at hand as soon as possible.”

In Las Vegas, a strike is possible by Culinary Union members who are now working without a contract. Union members have overwhelmingly authorized a work stoppage in Las Vegas. Seventy five union members and officials were arrested recently after they blocked traffic on the Las Vegas Strip.

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