Detroit Casinos Hope Caesars Windor Strike Helps Business
Detroit’s casinos believe they could emerge as one of the winners in the Caesars Windsor closure. The Windsor, Ontario casino is temporarily closed due a labor strike at the resort’s hotel and casino.
The bump given to MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown Casino-Hotel, and MotorCity Casino Hotel would be minor if the strike lasts only a matter of days. If the strike lasts weeks or months, it might help MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown, or MotorCity Casino grow its loyal customer base.
The last strike at Caesars Windsor lasted 42 days. After the strike, Caesars Windsor’s owners claimed the work stoppage had helped its rival casinos in the area build their businesses. Workers were laid off to compensate for the decline in revenues.
Distance between Detroit and Windsor
Detroit is only 8 miles away from Windsor across the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. If a Canadian gambler does not mind dealing with US and Canadian customs, they can pay a visit to Detroit’s casinos much like one would drive to one’s local shopping center or a kid’s ballgame in many cities.
That presents the opportunity for MGM, Jack Entertainment, and IH Gaming to impress Canadian customers as they look for new gaming opportunities. No doubt, the management at each of Detroit’s casinos sees the opportunity and are rolling out special promotions to take advantage.
Union and Casino Leaders Speak Out
The current strike was called by Unifor Local 444, after the union membership voted by a 59%-41% margin to go on strike. Local 444 President James Stewart said the strike comes down to financial frustrations of the union’s 2400 local workers, along with a growing sense that Caesars did not respect its workers.
Stewart told CBC, “A lot of what we heard was respect issues. But on top of that there was a real sense that they wanted more in terms of the financial gains. Wages were important. They were very clear that they want some of that back in this agreement.”
Kevin Laforet, a regional president and spokesman for Caesars Entertainment, disagreed with the characterization. Laforet said, “We felt the agreement was fair and sustainable. We will be meeting with Unifor to discuss next steps. I personally want to apologize for any inconvenience this causes our customers.”
Strike Began on Friday
The strike began at 12:01am on Friday. Caesars cancelled all hotel reservations made between April 6 and April 12, 2018. The company asked customers who have reservations for April 13 and beyond to either call the toll-free number 1-800-991-8888 or email Caesars’s management at email@example.com to get the latest information on hotel closings.
Johnny Reid’s Friday night concert was postponed. Caesars Windsor’s management told ticket holders to the Johnny Reid concert to hold on to their unused tickets, because they could be used at the next concert on the schedule. They also told those with tickets to upcoming shows at the Caesars Windor Colisseum to call to check on cancellations.
How Long Will Strike Last?
As with any strike, no one can say how long the stalemate will continue. Both sides believe they are in the right, so union negotiations which reach the strike stage can be long-running, contentious, and bitter. Union members do not like to strike, because it costs them work and therefore money, but they vote to take such a radical step when they believe the current work conditions will affect their families more negatively than the risk of a strike likely would.
Strikes can backfire, depending on the resolve of ownership. When the Local 54 of UNITE-Here struck at the Trump Taj Mahal at Atlantic City in July 2016, owner Carl Icahn decided to close the casino instead of negotiate. That decision came three weeks into the strike, as Bob McDevitt and the billionaire investor could not reach middle ground.
Caesars Windsor Strike Is Risky
That was a particularly contentious labor situation which had simmered for 18 months. Carl Icahn, armed by a court decision won by the previous ownership group in October 2014, saw no reason to give ground on pension and health benefits. The Local 54, who saw their pension and health benefits taken away while other Atlantic City casino workers had theirs, felt a strike was a better option.
In the end, both sides lost. The union workers lost their jobs and Carl Icahn sold the Trump Taj Mahal at a loss to Hard Rock International. New Jersey politicians believed Icahn planned to reopen with non-union workers and sought passage of a law which would undermine his ability to do so. Though the bill was vetoed by Chris Christie, the move caused Carl Icahn to sell. The casino will re-open the casino next month as the Hard Rock Atlantic City.