Workers in Kamloops, Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton will walk off the job on June 29.
Okanagan, B.C. (09 July 2018) — Over 675 members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUGPE) working at Gateway Casinos in the Okanagan walked off the job at 3:01 pm on June 29. Casino workers at Cascades Kamloops, Cascades Penticton, Playtime Kelowna and Lake City Vernon are set to strike after mediation broke down.
Workers looking for industry standard wages
"Our members are asking for living wages that would bring them in-line with the industry standard for casino workers in BC," says Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. "These workers are the heart of their casinos. Gateway is a successful company in a highly profitable industry — they can afford to pay their staff what they are worth."
Smith explains that "by paying workers living wages, the money that Gateway makes in the Okanagan stays in the local economy instead of going to Vancouver, or even Ontario, where Gateway owns several large properties."
In a vote held from June 4 to 6, over 88 per cent of Gateway staff in all four Okanagan casinos came out and voted 93.1 per cent in favour of taking strike action. On June 25, the union delivered the required 72-hours-notice of strike action.
Gateway's Okanagan staff have been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement since the last one expired in September 2017.
Employer's wage proposal won't keep ahead of minimum wage increases
Negotiations broke off in May after the employer refused to offer wages and benefits that are industry standard at comparable casinos. Both parties met for a few days of mediated talks over the past 2 weeks but could not reach an agreement on key monetary issues.
Smith says the employer's offer is unacceptable. "The wages Gateway are offering won't even keep ahead of the planned minimum wage increases."
"Our members will be standing strong on the picket lines until they get a fair offer from the company."
BCGEU/NUPGE represents around 675 staff spread across Gateway's four casinos in the Okanagan: Playtime Casino in Kelowna, Lake City Casino in Vernon, and Cascades Casinos in Kamloops and Penticton. BCGEU members work in table games, as slot attendants, cashiers, in the count room, kitchen, security, guest services, and maintenance.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE