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Montreal casino dealers on strike, poker room closed

Posted: May 22, 2022, 5:57 a.m.

Last update: May 22, 2022, 5:57 a.m.

Dealers at the Casino de Montreal in Canada went on strike from Saturday after negotiations failed to produce an acceptable deal. The site’s poker room has been temporarily closed. The other operations remain open normally.

Casino Montreal workers demonstrate last weekend
Casino de Montreal workers picketed last weekend, pictured above. Earlier work stoppages were followed by a dealer strike on Saturday. (Picture: The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes)

The strike began at 9 a.m. Saturday. Workers marched from a subway station to the casino. A picket line was formed outside the casino later that day.

The strike follows two four-hour work stoppages last weekend. The strike is expected to continue until negotiations result in an acceptable agreement, the union said.

The casino is owned by Loto-Québec, the provincial government’s gaming operator-regulator.

The union represents 521 dealers. The last collective agreement expired on March 31, 2020.

In a recent press release, Loto-Québec said it was “disappointed” with the strike.

Casino de Montréal operations will continue as normal and customers will have access to them, ”adds the press release from Loto-Québec. “Gaming tables, restaurants, slot machines and shows are operating normally, while the poker lounge is closed.”

Tasks lead to injury

A major concern raised by the union relates to injuries caused by working hours and demands. The union says half of the dealers are injured.

They have to process almost 10,000 cards in a single working day. Many work five to six days a week. The dealers suffered tendinitis and other injuries, the union added.

Jean-Pierre Proulx, a union rep for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), told CBC the job “requires long hours on your feet.”

“Dealers can deal up to 10,000 cards in a day. The faster the game goes, the more money the casino wins.

Wage disputes

In addition, concerns about pay cuts for new hires are another priority. Dealers are finding they are working shorter shifts six days a week, to achieve a 30-hour work week, the union said.

Loto-Québec wants a 10% wage cut for new workers. This would reduce the hourly rate for entry-level employees from 18.40 to 17.44 in Canadian dollars, the union said. The union refuses the reduction.

Reviewing union demands, Loto-Quebec said Casino de Montreal concessionaires want 30 minutes of paid break for every hour worked.

They would therefore devote more than 30% of their shift to paid breaks, which is unusual in the industry, ”adds the press release from Loto-Québec.

But the union counters that workers get a 15-minute break for every hour worked

In addition, Loto-Quebec said the starting salary for dealers is 20% higher than what the relevant market pays.

The hourly wage can double taking into account the bonuses paid for certain shifts and the tips collected from the players, specified Loto-Québec.

In addition, the terms proposed during the negotiations were similar to what had been accepted by CUPE in other Loto-Quebec casinos, says Loto-Quebec.

In February, the union accused Loto-Quebec of planning “hundreds of hidden layoffs” after failing to call back all dealers who had been laid off during the pandemic. This is despite the lifting of coronavirus restrictions at the casino in February.

Located on Île Notre-Dame, the Casino de Montréal is the largest casino in Canada

The operations of the other Loto-Québec casinos are not affected by the strike.