Detroit City Council Unanimously Passes Resolution Supporting Striking Casino Workers
The resolution expresses solidarity with striking workers, “recognizes that working people deserve respect, adequate workplace protections, and the right to a living wage.”
Casino workers launched a citywide strike one week ago
Read the full city council resolution >>
DETROIT—The Detroit City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday morning in support of unionized casino workers at the MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown. One week ago, workers launched a wall-to-wall strike affecting 3,700 casino employees across a broad range of classifications including dealers, cleaning staff, food and beverage workers, valets, engineers and more.
Hundreds of members of the five unions who are striking together at Detroit’s three casinos packed Detroit City Council’s big auditorium wearing blue union coalition shirts. Workers from all three casinos presented public testimony, calling on members of the City Council to vote in favor of a resolution supporting Detroit casino workers on strike for a fair contract.
When Detroit’s casinos were first approved in 1998, the casino owners signed agreements with the City of Detroit to ensure good jobs in Detroit’s casino industry. In the time since, Detroit’s casino workers sacrificed raises and shouldered heavier workloads so the industry could recover from the pandemic.
“When the casinos decided to open in Detroit, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me. They promoted a fabulous package of making a substantial amount of money, low cost of healthcare, and decent contributions to a 401k: it was what I was looking for,” said Kim Syfax, a 21-year table games dealer at Hollywood Casino at Greektown and chairperson of UAW Local 7777, who spoke in support of the resolution. “As of now, the wages we receive absolutely do not keep up with the rising cost of living. That’s why we’re asking you to support us, and to stand with us.”
“I came today to ask City Council to support our strike as we try to maintain our healthcare,” said Shataya Thompson, a valet cashier at MotorCity Casino and member of Teamsters Local 1038, who also spoke in support of the resolution. “I’m a mother and wife, and I am currently pregnant with my third child. I am considered high risk, and this past weekend I spent three days in the hospital. Maintaining my healthcare is the most important thing for me.”
“I stand before you today to ask you to support us and our strike. We all would like to maintain our healthcare and to have a livable wage. There’s no reason for anybody to be working in these casinos and be homeless,” said Alicia Weaver, a 24-year guest room attendant at MGM Grand Detroit and member of UNITE HERE Local 24, testifying before the members of Detroit’s City Council. “Most importantly, we want you to understand the work that we do every day to help create the revenue that comes into the City of Detroit. I want you to make sure that these companies recognize our work, and that it’s time for them to take care of us.”
In September 2020, workers agreed to a three-year contract extension with minimal wage increases to help the industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Detroit casino workers have received only 3% raises, but inflation in Detroit has risen 20%. In contrast, industry gaming revenues have now surpassed pre-pandemic levels to reach a new record high. In 2022, the Detroit casino industry generated $2.27 billion in gaming revenue and is on track for another record-breaking year in 2023.
After months of negotiations with casino operators failed to produce a fair contract, Detroit Casino workers were forced onto the picket line last week to protect their healthcare and win decent raises, fair workloads, and more job security.
The Detroit Casino Council (DCC) is UNITE HERE Local 24, UAW Local 7777, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters. These five unions represent most of the workers at the three casinos in Detroit: Hollywood Casino at Greektown, MGM Grand Detroit, and MotorCity Casino. Our members work in food and beverage, housekeeping, retail outlets, slots and table games, engineering and more. The DCC partner unions are part of International Unions that have experience representing gaming workers and winning great contracts throughout the United States, including in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. For more information visithttps://www.detroitcasinocouncil.org.