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Teamsters, Operating Engineers Among Detroit Casino Employees Working Without a Contract

pic by Rod Arroyo

pic by Rod Arroyo

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Over 6,000 casino workers in Detroit are working under a contract extension while the Detroit Casino Council, an umbrella organization of the four unions that represent casino employees, negotiate a new deal. The Council, a consortium of UAW Local 7777, Unite Here Local 24, Teamsters Local 372 and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324 members, informed its membership that they are not satisfied with the latest offer and have proposed a counteroffer.  Representatives of the Greektown Casino, MGM Grand Detroit, and MotorCity Casino are currently reviewing that offer.  

The contention in the negotiations revolves around health care costs.  The unions would like to see a continuation of their current plans while the casinos want to shift some of the burden to workers.  In an emailed statement to the Detroit Free Press, Annemarie Strassel, a spokeswoman for Unite Here, said:

“The tough issue on the table is who will pay for rising healthcare costs. Based on current proposals, the casinos want to shift more of those costs onto workers. Access to good health care is what makes these middle-class jobs. We want to make sure we reach a fair agreement that keeps health care affordable.”

The casinos expect health care costs to rise by $46 million over the next four years and are playing hardball. They argue that without changes to health care they will be unable to provide raises and bonuses.  

The contract between the unions and the casinos expired on October 16th. On October 30th, mediators recommended a ‘cooling off’ period.  On November 2nd the unions voted to authorize a strike if necessary.  While they have been unable to come to an agreement, a strike remains unlikely.  Jacci Woods, a spokeswoman for MotorCity, said she believed a compromise will be reached: “The parties are negotiating in good faith and are committed to reaching an agreement that is beneficial for all.”

The consultants have proposed several health care alternatives, including switching to TeamCare, a union-backed, multi-employer Taft-Hartley plan that uses the Blue Cross network.  The unions, however, have yet to budge from their desire to continue their current plan.


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