The Detroit Casino Council has released a report estimating the toll in tax and revenues that workers at the city’s three casinos could exact if they choose to strike.
It estimated US$738,000 in city and state tax revenues and $3.4m in casino operator revenues per day would be put at risk.
Negotiations over workers’ contracts have been ongoing for several months but an agreement has yet to be reached, with contracts now due to expire. Unionised workers are seeking contract improvements after enduring years of hardships stemming from the pandemic.
“After we helped Detroit’s gaming industry get back on its feet, business is booming, but the people who make the casinos run are still struggling,” said Nia Winston, UNITE HERE Local 24 president. “Our goal is to reach a fair deal, but unfortunately, we’re still far apart. If the companies cannot do better, then we are prepared to strike.”
Detroit’s gaming revenue has returned to pre-pandemic levels with 2023 set to be a record-breaking year. However, according to DCC figures, there are now 1,500 fewer union casino jobs in Detroit than before the pandemic, and the city’s casinos are paying $34m less in total wages in 2022 than in 2019.
In addition, inflation in Detroit has risen 20 per cent since 2020, but the city’s casino workers’ wages have only risen by 3 per cent.
“The company is offering us nickels and dimes, and they want us to pay more for healthcare,” said Terri Sykes, a dealer at Motor City with 24 years of service and president of UAW Local 7777. “As a two-time breast cancer survivor, I’m fighting to protect our health care.
“These companies are making more than ever, and it’s time they respect us for all the sacrifices we made to keep the doors open during the pandemic.”