Palace and Baccarat Employees Speak in Unison
Employees at the Baccarat Casino in downtown Edmonton have now commenced union negotiations with their Employer. Palace Casino employees at West Edmonton Mall have been in bargaining for a long time, struggling to conclude a Collective Agreement with Gateway Casinos.
Gateway has been very difficult to deal with at the bargaining table and continues to face charges of unfair labour practices at the Alberta Labour Relations Board.
Employees at both the Baccarat and the Palace are now considering joining the National Defense Fund (NDF). The NDF is a special multi-million dollar strike fund, sponsored by the UFCW that allows workers from across Canada access to additional strike benefits in case there is a dispute. The great thing about joining the NDF, says UFCW Executive Director of Labour Relations, Thomas Hesse, is that it can be viewed as an effective way to AVOID a strike. When employers see that employees are strong, committed and will not be walked over, they are less likely to adopt the sort of bargaining positions that force vulnerable workers into going on strike. The history of the NDF bears out the this principle. The overwhelming majority of workers who have joined the NDF have never had a strike or a lockout. When there has been a dispute, the NDF has ensured that the workers’ actions were successful and that their economic needs were met while on picket lines.
Baccarat and Palace employees are also likely headed toward taking a strike vote. Hesse says, “This is part two of the workers’ message. They are anxious to tell Palace and Baccarat management that unless they are treated better, they are not afraid to threaten to withdraw their labour.”
Palace and Baccarat bargaining are not joined as one in any formal way. However, as their negotiations are now taking place simultaneously, it puts Gateway at risk of facing two potential disputes at both of their Edmonton locations. “Workers from both locations have similar issues and concerns,” says Hesse. “They both work for the same company.”
Gateway is spending money in British Columbia and Ontario, expanding their businesses, but they are seemingly indifferent to the legitimate and reasonable concerns of the staff at both their Edmonton casinos. “The employer has created this circumstance,” says Hesse. “By failing to negotiate fairly at the Palace they have protracted bargaining unnecessarily. This has put workers in a position where they can demand fairness from two vantage points at the same time.” And indeed Baccarat and Palace employees are shouting very loudly for respect and dignity in the workplace.
Watching this unfold will be of special interest to Edmontonians. West Edmonton Mall is a high profile tourist attraction and the Palace Casino is located there. The Baccarat Casino is situated in the midst of the development of the new downtown hockey arena and entertainment complex. Can you imagine the controversy that will be associated with the picket line at that location?
Edmonton’s Gateway Casinos workers are no strangers to standing up for their rights and pushing back when Palace and Baccarat management act in either aggressive or dismissive ways. Holding their employer accountable has been something that Palace employees are certainly familiar with and Baccarat employees are just as determined to fight for fairness and respect in their casino.
Stand with Baccarat and Palace workers and
stay tuned for more as this evolves.
Posted on: January 27,2015