Striking Ontario Casino Worker Hit by Car in ‘Deliberate’ Attack by Impatient Customer
A casino worker protesting outside Casino Woodbine in Etobicoke, Toronto, was hit by a car on the picket line on Sunday night. The union claims the action was deliberate.
A spokesman for Unifor, which organized the picket line, said the unnamed worker was taken to a local hospital to be treated for a broken ankle and a contusion that required stitches. He has since been released and is recovering at home.
The union claimed that contract security officials employed by Casino Woodbine initially refused to turn video of the “vehicular assault” over to police. The driver of the car is believed to be an impatient customer who was permitted to stay inside the casino for several hours after the incident, according to Unifor.
“Picket lines remain dangerous places for workers, and this is another example of that,” said Unifor in its statement. “Over the years, many Unifor members have been injured on picket lines in a similar fashion. This must end—workers have a right to be safe at work and a right to free expression.”
Unifor has been at loggerheads with Great Canadian Gaming, which owns Casino Woodbine, over issues including wages, benefits, pensions, and too many part-time positions.
On July 18, the union issued a strike mandate, warning that 1,830 workers at eight Great Canadian Gaming casinos would walk off the job at 12.01 a.m. the following Saturday if a deal couldn’t be reached.
The strike was called off at six out of the eight casinos, including Casino Woodbine, after tentative deals were reached. But it went ahead at Pickering Casino Resort and Casino Ajax, where negotiations continued over pay.
Workers in Canada can picket other sites owned by an employer with whom the union is in dispute. That made the picket line at Casino Woodbine legal, despite the tentative resolution. Strikes began July 23 and continued last weekend.
“Our members, workers at Pickering Casino and their other properties, are fighting for equality with workers at other casinos,” Lana Payne, Unifor’s national secretary-treasurer, told Durham Radio News July 29. “They are looking for fairness and Unifor is with them in this struggle.”
Unifor called on Great Canadian Gaming to condemn the attack on the employee and to encourage customers to “be patient” during the strikes.
“Workers in Canada have the legal right to picket as a peaceful method of raising awareness of their workplace dispute,” said the union. “Courts have repeatedly upheld this right.”
Great Canadian Gaming was acquired by US private equity giant Apollo Global Management last year in a $3.3 billion deal.
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