Woodbine lockout enters second week

May 17, 2023 | Canadian News, News

Woodbine Casino workers continued their picket line today as their employer, Great Canadian Entertainment continued their lockout of casino workers.

Wednesday marked the tenth day of the lockout of 945 staff. Workers formed multiple picket lines at the start of the lockout.

Theo Lagakos is the president of Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) local 533, which represents the locked-out staff. He said workers had “escalated” their campaign in the last few days.

Workers have formed picket lines around all entrances to the casino. He said workers had “escalated” their campaign in the last couple of days.

Workers have formed picket lines around all entrances to the casino. Union members are stopping cars entering the casino for a couple of minutes by using pylons, letting one car in at a time.

In some cases, union members use the opportunity to have conversations with customers about the situation.

Lagakos said the conversations had been “all over the place,” but “working class people definitely understand.”

Chuck Keeling is the executive vice president of stakeholder engagement, community and social responsibility at Great Canadian Entertainment.

Another offer with “further improvements” was made to the bargaining committee Monday, but the committee chose not to take it to their members, Keeling told Humber News in an email.

He said the deal includes raises above the current inflation rate and 30 per cent higher than what PSAC agreed to in recent negotiations with the federal government.

“This is on top of a series of other enhancements, like sick days for part-time workers,” he said.

Lagakos, however, said Monday’s offer did not include anything new and that it was only presented “slightly differently.”

“It’s the same amount of money,” he said, referring to the previous offer made the night before the lockout. “It’s the same everything.”

Great Canadian Entertainment is distinct from the other employer at Woodbine Casino, Woodbine Entertainment Group, which runs the horse track, Lagakos highlighted.

Lagakos said the union has no issue with Woodbine Entertainment.

“Our issue is primarily with the company known as Great Canadian – or not so great Canadian,” he said.

Anene Nwabuoku, a card dealer who has worked at the casino for four years, said the lockout has been difficult on him and his family.

“It’s not easy for everyone because it’s really hard on us right now,” Nwabuoku said. “We all want to go back. We’re not enjoying this. They should come to the table.”