A more than four month long strike at casinos in the Thompson-Okanagan is over after a razor-thin ratification vote.
BCGEU members at Gateway Casinos in Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and Kamloops have voted 50.6% to ratify a new four year contract.
Union president Stephanie Smith tells Beach Radio News, 259 members were in favour, and 252 against.
Smith says some members feel the company could have offered more.
“The margin on the vote was extremely narrow which I think is a strong message our members still feel that the employer could have done more for them,” says Smith.
Smith says the “strength and solidarity of their members,” and their willingness to stay on the line, was a key part of getting the new deal.
“There were a number of pressure points. I think the community support of our members really played a large part in it as well.”
Smith says the wage increases are complex due to the number of classifications, and where people are on the grid.
“What I can tell you is that the smallest percentage increase we were able to achieve was over 8 percent, and the largest was over 34 percent.”
Smith says, for example, a new security person in the former deal would have started off with wage of just over $14 an hour.
“Now a probationary security officer will be starting at over $16 an hour, so we were able to make significant wage gains in this round of bargaining.”
Smith says the picket lines came down Thursday night.
“We are starting the return to work progress now and over the weekend.”
Smith was not aware of the impact the strike had on Gateway, but says now everyone who supported their picket line can come back to the casinos, and build the business.
The company has so far not responded to our request for comment.
A statement from Gateway Casinos says the new agreement includes immediate wage increases for every employee and a robust compensation package over the term of the agreement that is accompanied by a wide array of non-monetary benefits.
“We are pleased with the outcome of the vote and thank the bargaining committees that worked tirelessly to design an agreement that would fairly reward our employees while remaining reasonable for the businesses we operate in these communities,” says Tanya Gabara, Director, Public Relations.
Gabara says the past few months have been challenging for all involved and they thank their customers for their patience and loyalty throughout the labour disruption.
“We now turn our full attention back to our business and are committed to a smooth return to regular business over the coming weeks.”
Sites will continue to operate the same hours as during the labour disruption through this weekend, but beginning next week, sites will start to resume regular operating hours and over the coming weeks they will gradually expand the operation with the opening of additional amenities, including food and beverage outlets and table games, as they are ready and business levels warrant them.
12pm to 2am until Sunday with normal operating hours of 9am to 2am Sunday to Thursday and 9am to 3am Friday and Saturday starting on Wednesday the 14th.
Match: Starting on Wednesday, November 14 – 4pm-11pm Sun-Thur; 4pm-12am Fri/Sat
Friday and Saturday from 12pm to 12am, closed on Monday and Tuesday, open Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 12pm to 10pm
Match: Starting on Wednesday, November 14 – 4pm-9pm Sun-Wed; 4pm-12am Thur-Sat
A more than four month long strike at casinos in the Thompson Okanagan is over.
About 700 members of the BCGEU who work for Gateway Casinos in Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and Kamloops have ratified a new contract.
“I am so impressed by the solidarity and courage of our members” says Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU. “They should be proud of what they achieved by sticking together throughout the bargaining process, especially over the past 19 weeks on the picket line.”
The four-year deal includes an average 23.5% wage increase over the life of the agreement and improved benefits – particularly for part-time workers.
“Our members are going back to work, which is great news,” says Smith. “But the ratification vote was close, which means there is more work to be done in all four of these workplaces. That work starts as soon as the picket lines come down.”
Casino workers, who have been off the job since June 29, will begin heading back to work over the weekend as operations resume to pre-strike levels.
The union members work at Playtime Casino in Kelowna, Lake City
Casino in Vernon, and Cascades Casinos in Kamloops and Penticton.
Positions include slot attendants, game table attendants, cashiers, kitchen, security, guest services and maintenance.