After Woodbine casino management locked out nearly 1,000 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the workers’ representatives, as of May 8, on May 20, they were joined by supporters in a protest outside the said casino. From 12 o’clock on May 8, picket lines were formed, and other people who do not work at Casino Woodbine joined in as the sign of support.
Negotiating a collective agreement:
The main goal of the protest is the possibility of negotiating a collective agreement, which would involve, among other things, guaranteed part-time working hours, additional full-time positions, better salaries and sick leave. However, on April 28, Casino Woodbine applied to the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development for a “No Board Report”, which gave them legal permission to lock out their employees. In this regard, Woodbine Casino said: “We have been in negotiations with PSAC trying to reach an agreement with employees that offers them the benefits they are seeking.”
Additionally, a statement from Woodbine said: “On April 27th, we reached an agreement with PSAC’s bargaining committee that included a 16% increase in wages over four years, market adjustments in wages for certain roles, a signing bonus of $1,000 for Full Time team members and $500 for Part Time team members, as well as significant enhancements in benefits. Notably, the tentative agreement offered wage increases 30% higher than those agreed to by PSAC’s bargaining unit with the federal government at similar income levels to our members.”
However, after two days of voting on May 3 and 4, employees voted to dismiss the employer’s newset contract offer.
In this regard, the statement states: “Despite endorsement of the tentative agreement by the PSAC bargaining committee and the senior leadership of the PSAC, members voted against this offer. Subsequently, we have offered further advancements, which have not been taken to their membership.”
The casino continues to operate as normal amid the protest:
Although the protest is ongoing, Casino Woodbine stated that “they have continued to operate slot machine play open 24/7, table games as well as live and simulcast racing at the racetrack.” They added: “We remain committed to discussions with PSAC to get our members back to work as well as delivering an excellent guest experience for however long the labour disruption may last.”
Furthermore, 945 PSAC members work at the casino, ranging from table dealers, cashiers and cleaning staff.
Casino Woodbine submitted a request for conciliation on March 22. After a day of conciliation, on April 5, it filed for a “No Board Report” and a provisional agreement was reached on April 27.