On July 10, 2014, union employees at Ontario’s Thunder Bay Casino signed a new agreement with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. This prevented an employee lockout from occurring, which keeps the casino open for gamers. It also provides some stability for Thunder Bay employees after months of uncertainty regarding the casino’s future.
The new agreement is retroactive to November 2013 and lasts for a term of three years. Under the new agreement, union workers receive an $800 signing bonus and a 1.75 percent raise in 2015. Existing employee benefits will be maintained or updated.
Eighty percent of Thunder Bay Casino employees voted on the issue. Eighty-five percent of the votes supported the new agreement, according to United Steelworkers union spokesperson Bruce Frost.
“Facing the broader public sector and with the government’s austerity program in place, we didn’t think it was the time to be looking for big wage increases,” Frost told CBC.
Approximately 200 employees are affected by the new agreement. Casino employees first joined the United Steelworkers union in November 2013, because the casino was not addressing employee concerns, USW Ontario Director Marty Warren told CNW Group.
Prior to the new agreement, workers at Thunder Bay Casino had not received a wage increase for five years, CNW Group reports. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation had instituted a wage freeze and was prepared to extend the freeze.
Workers were concerned that Ontario’s government was looking to privatize the Thunder Bay casino. The new agreement binds any future owner to the collective agreement, which ensures continuity for employees in the event that the casino is sold.
Prior to the new agreement at Thunder Bay, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation reached a new agreement with workers at the Slots at Sudbury Downs. Casino workers at the Slots at Georgian Downs and the OLG Casino Saulte Ste. Marie are also expected to negotiate collective agreements with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.