Mediator Will be Involved… Strike Vote Getting Closer!
In collective bargaining meetings last week, union bargaining teams from both the Palace and Baccarat Casinos concluded that no further progress could be made. But the bargaining committees were not yet satisfied with Gateway’s bargaining positions. UFCW Local 401 made two applications for government appointed mediators to be involved in negotiations for both casinos. We are awaiting government appointments.
The mediation process can be helpful in pushing employers towards a negotiated settlement. However, mediation is also a mandatory process under Alberta law before employees are legally entitled to have a strike vote. If mediation does not result in settlements for the Baccarat and Palace Casino employees, strike votes will be held for both groups.
Gateway Casino employees in Alberta enjoy considerable leverage, as both groups are able to consider striking at the same time. Obviously this would make it impossible for Gateway to run its business in Edmonton.
On the other hand, no employee wants to go on strike unless they have to. A negotiated settlement is always better. But it must be a good settlement that fairly balances the interests of the business while ensuring a fair workplace and reasonable compensation package for the hard working employees at Baccarat and Palace.
Recent discussions are focusing on wages. Union bargaining teams are pushing for higher compensation levels for every job classification. Each group is represented at the table. Pit Bosses assert that their work has doubled but that their wages have not. Dealers at both casinos have struggled with declining tip revenues. In Housekeeping, Security, Guest Services, Slot department, the Kitchen and Food & Beverage department anxiety has been on the rise as each group of employees expresses their own unique concerns with working conditions. There are others who are frustrated as well.
At the Baccarat and at the Palace, both groups of employees now have some considerable optimism about the future but changes for those employees will not be immediate. Palace expansion and renovation is not imminent. Baccarat employees will not move to their new facility for some time. The bottom line is that all employees in all departments from both casinos are joined as one in solidarity in pursuit of fairer workplaces for all Edmonton Gateway union members.
We do not believe we have yet seen the company’s final offers of settlement. We are pushing hard to convince them to put those on the table. Hopefully, mediation and potential strike votes will get us there. As you are aware, both casinos will be able to vote on contract offers in a ratification process. Union members at both casinos will decide their fate.
We hope to have meetings with government mediation services officials soon. We will update you further at that time.
As a final note, we are pleased to announce that Baccarat security guards have now unionized and are officially part of the collective bargaining process. A strong majority have endorsed the UFCW in writing, and that majority has been independently confirmed through a special process laminated by a sworn affidavit. Gateway has confirmed the bargaining rights of those guards. Congratulations to Baccarat security guards!
Posted on: July 13,2015