Casino de Montréal Dealers Hold Flash Strike as Contract Negotiations Stall

Casino de Montréal dealers unexpectedly dropped their decks and walked off the job over the weekend.

Casino de Montréal
Casino de Montréal
Strikers protesting outside the Casino de Montréal on Saturday after staging a mass walkout. (Image: The Globe and Mail)

The flash strike began on the stroke of 4pm on Saturday and lasted for four hours. Workers headed out to the entrance to the casino to demonstrate at against an impasse in negotiations over their new collective agreement. The protest was repeated for four hours on Sunday.

At stake is the agreement that regulates the working conditions of 521 dealers. Salaries and working schedules are the main issues. The dealers have been without contracts since March 31, 2020.

Negotiations hit deadlock the previous weekend, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), told The Globe and Mail.

The casino is owned by Loto-Quebec, the provincial government’s gaming operator-regulator. Situated on Notre Dame Island, it is the largest casino in Canada.

‘More Openness’

“We need more openness from the employer during the mediation sessions, which will take place from next Tuesday. With the actions of today and yesterday, the dealers have demonstrated their readiness to mobilize and their determination to reach a satisfactory agreement,” said CUPE union representative Jean-Pierre Proulx Sunday in a French-language press release.

Loto-Quebec officials said they would continue to welcome customers to the casino during in the event of future strikes, albeit with a slightly restricted service.

Operations at the gaming tables will continue. The most popular games, such as blackjack, roulette, and baccarat, will be on offer, but the poker room will be closed. All other activities, such as restaurants, shows, or slot machine games, will take place normally,” the company said in a statement.

It added it would continue negotiations with the union “within parameters that are similar to what has been agreed to by the same bodies of employees in its other casinos.”

‘Hidden Layoffs’

In February, the union accused Loto-Québec of planning “hundreds of hidden layoffs” after it failed to recall all of the dealers who had been laid off during the pandemic. This was despite the lifting of coronavirus restrictions at the casino in February.

According to the union, 97.4% voted in favor of employing “pressure tactics” to force the operator to reinstate the dealers and return gaming tables to full capacity. This involved dealers showing up to work wearing union T-shirts advertising their demands.

Loto-Québec said in a February 25 state it would “pursue its gradual reopening, recalling its staff based on traffic and customer expectations.”

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