May 17, 2017 9:05 pm

Union town hall addresses potential job losses at two Niagara casinos

Unifor local 199 held a public town hall on Wednesday to discuss saving 1,400 casino jobs at Niagara Casinos.

J.P. Moczulski / THE CANADIAN PRESS
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Canada’s largest private sector union held a town hall in Niagara on Wednesday in the hopes of saving jobs at two casinos in the region.

The union told the public and members of the media about a potential Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) plan which could privatize Casino Niagara and Fallsview Casino, affecting up to 1,400 workers.

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President of Unifor Local 199 Greg Brady told AM640’s The John Oakley Show that the union is concerned about a request for proposal (RFP) to select new operators for the two casinos, which could lead to lower labour costs and expenses in order to turn a larger profit.

“[We are] trying to connect to all the gaming workers and organize them,” Brady said. “The conversation is about creating and defending good jobs in the Niagara Region.”

Earlier this year a number of Niagara politicians, including Mayor Jim Diodati and Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates, pushed the province to shelve the RFP. However, Queens Park has stood firm on the modernization plan.

Brady says the potential job cuts were revealed by a third-party consultant in a report put forward by corporate consulting firm HLT Advisory.

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Unlike workers at some of the other casinos in Ontario that are unionized, such as Caesars Windsor and Casino Rama,  the majority of workers at Niagara casinos are not, and do not have any say in workplace changes.

“The Casino Niagara is the one I think will be at risk [for closure],” Brady said. “1,400 jobs could be directly at risk if one of the casinos would happen to close in Niagara.”

Both casinos are currently being operated by Complex Services Inc. The OLG is expected to reveal a new service provider in the summer of 2018.

Brady says Unifor’s process for “preserving jobs” at the two casinos is in the “early stages” and that it could be a “long road” before the shops could be potentially unionized.

 

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