DETROIT (FOX 2) - Employees at Detroit's three casinos walked off the job Tuesday after negotiations for a new contract failed to secure an agreement after the previous one expired overnight. The casinos say they'll continue to operate while the 3,700 union members strike for better wages and benefits.
For some workers, Tuesday's escalation shows "we mean business."
"We are overworked and underpaid and extremely exhausted of it," said Deonte Vines, who works at Hollywood Casino at Greektown. "I’m proud to be a part of it (strike)."
While negotiations have been underway for more than a month, leaders at the Detroit Casino Council, which is populated by five separate unions that represent the employees who are now picketing, have been giving notice about the chance for a strike for weeks.
After the rejected the casinos' latest offer Tuesday morning, the workers took up signs at noon.
"We didn’t want it to come to this, but we was ready if we needed to," said Terri Smith.
Detroit's three casinos Greektown, MGM, and MotorCity announced in varying statements they were disappointed by the decision to strike and would continue to run the gaming centers. According to Matt Buckley, the President and COO of MGM Resorts' Midwest Group, the casino "will continue to offer employees work, and to the extent employees represented by the union choose to participate in the strike, we will take whatever lawful action is necessary to fill shifts and continue providing our customers with entertainment and service."
A statement from MotorCity Casino Hotel General Manager John Policicchio said the two parties had made significant progress.
"We remain committed to bargaining in good faith and achieving a contract that is fair to our employees and allows our company to remain competitive in our industry. As we work to resolve the open issues, we will remain open to serve our guests."
A spokesperson for Penn Entertainment, which owns Greektown said it had made generous, progressive settlement offers and ware committed to continued good-faith bargaining.
Sticking points for the workers include increased wages, retirement guarantees, reduced workloads, and job security.