Strike looms for Detroit casinos as contract with workers ends Oct. 16

Standing at a podium Thursday, the president of the union representing thousands of workers at Detroit casinos called on the three based in the city to "stop gambling with our livelihoods."

"Our people are doing the jobs of two and three people," said Nia Winston of Local 24. "And the casinos aren’t doing enough to fill the positions that they still have open because the wages are not competitive."

The fiery words came as 3,700 employees prepared for a possible expiration of their contract without a new one in place. Set to end on Oct. 16, those in the room Thursday listening to Winston speak held signs that red "Don't gamble with our future."

That includes Shataya Thompson, who spoke through tears.

"I want what’s best for my family," she said, saying she was thinking about her family when she was delivering remarks. "When I talk about my kids and my family, I do get emotional. It’s an emotional situation, but with the support of the DCC, and my coworkers, I can fight and keep going."

Thompson, a wife and mother of two with a third child on the way works as a Motor City Casino Valet and cashier. She says maintaining health care is a top priority.

"Especially with going through the pandemic. Going through covid and everyday life. It’s people who have been here since the doors open, and have gone through so much, and they depend and they look for that healthcare."

The Detroit Casino Council said since the pandemic, Detroit's casinos have made record profits of $2.2 billion - much more than before the shutdown. However, union members say they haven't received any bumps in pay. 

In response to the potential strike, all three casinos say they are committed to continue working with the union. 

"We are committed to continue working constructively to develop a mutually beneficial agreement that positively positions our Team Members and business for success well into the future," said VP of Public Affairs of Hollywood Casino at Greektown's Parent company. 

Motor City Casino Hotel referred to their previous statement, while MGM said in part "We continue to negotiate with the DCC on a new contract that demonstrates our commitment to our employees here in Detroit. We believe that all parties are dedicated to reaching an agreement that works for everyone."