Dialogues for Gateway
Unifor claims to represent 20,000 workers both in the gaming and hospitality sector in the country. This includes some of the largest and most popular casinos resorts in Canada. Chefs, table dealers, waitrons, gaming floor security personnel, VIP lounge managers’ hotel workers, cashiers, and hotel managers are all covered under the union's umbrella. According to many, the decision made by Chances staff to unionize is a smart move in consideration to the previous records of the property operator.
Last year, members of the British Columbian Government Employees Union (BCGEU) and the Gateway casino disagreed on a drawn-out labor dispute. As a result, more than 650 members of the BCGEU set a boundary for four months demanding Cascades Casino in Kamloops to provide them with improved working conditions. The members, therefore, went on strike during this time in Vernom, Kelowna, and Penticton.
Solution to the Dispute
Gateway Casino, according to the union representing, was denying its members a living wage. On the contrary, a few other casinos in the union had just increased their staff salary around that time. After a long period of discussion, a deal between the operator and the union was announced in November 2018.
Are the workers at Chances planning to launch a picket line similar to that of BCGEU members soon? This is the question many are left asking. However, with the new standards set by the gateway to increase other workers pay, pension benefits and more, dialogues should be efficient and run more smoothly this time.
The benefits and disadvantages of unionizing
How well will Gateway casinos run property compared to the past under the guidance of BCLC? Locals have low side expectations. They fear that prices will rise as quality falls. Here are some pros and cons of unionizing to determine whether locals need to be skeptical or not.
What benefits will the staff have?
Workers are paid better salaries and access to more benefits. For instance, in 2010, the salary of those who were union members was $917 while those who were not members was $717 according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, Union members are assured of job security. Nonmembers are typically hired meaning they can be fired for no reason. Lastly, unionized workers have more strength, and through collective bargaining, they negotiate health and safety issues, wages, and improved working conditions through the union.
There is no autonomy since however much a members may disagree with the rules of the union, they are bound to them. There is less trust from members to their supervisors’ hence less collaborative working environment.
At this juncture, joining a union will not give employees a stable ground to strike against Gateway. Apparently, the Chances employees have to be members of the union for some months before they take the striking rights seriously.
It is however obvious that the Chances employees are sending a message to Gateway that they expect to be treated with the respect, benefits, and wages equal to that of other unionized casino workers.