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Casino workers vote to unionize

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Fear that a potential privatization could shake things up at the Point Edward Casino has galvanized gaming and hospitality workers into voting overwhelmingly in favour of unionizing, says Unifor organizer Bob Van Cleef.

“It happened very, very quickly; less than a month from start to finish,” he told The Journal. The vote took place Sept. 12.

“This was mostly because of anxiety that the OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation) and the Ontario government are discussing privatization,” said Van Cleef.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty about that and workers aren’t sure of the future. With all the rumours, they want to be sure they are at the table if a private owner comes in.”

While most successful union certification votes are just over 50% in favour, more than 72% of Point Edward casino workers are on board, Van Cleef said.

“I’ve been organizing for eight years and this is the highest vote I’ve seen. I was overwhelmed by the level of support.”

The new Unifor local will represent about 220 workers, which is nearly everyone in the 14-year-old casino except security and management.

Security guards at the waterfront gaming facility have been unionized for years.

The casino workers will likely join an existing local rather than form a small one of their own, but that has not been determined, he added.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty in the gaming industry right now and (non-union) workers at Casino Niagara have been paying close attention to what is happening in Point Edward.”

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