Woodbine Racetrack workers strike ends after deal reached with OLG

Woodbine racetrack.
Woodbine racetrack. Tara Walton/Toronto Star via Getty Images

TORONTO – A three-week lockout of 400 workers at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. facility at the Woodbine horse racing track has ended.

The workers – who included cleaners, maintenance workers, slot technicians, shuttle bus drivers and coat-checkers – voted overwhelmingly in favour of a tentative agreement reached with the OLG, a statement from their union said Friday.

Sharon DeSousa, executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Ontario region, said all the workers will be back on the job by Tuesday.

“I’m extremely pleased that our members are happy with the agreement,” DeSousa said.

The Woodbine facility features more than 3,000 slot machines, electronic games and horse racing. A statement from the OLG said all services at the facility will be back to normal following the labour dispute.

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The OLG had locked out the workers on July 14, after talks over a new collective agreement came to a halt.

It said at the time that the facility would remain open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, but the electric poker room was closed and an onsite courtesy shuttle was unavailable because of the labour dispute.

READ MORE: OLG Slots workers at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack locked out

Union members had voted down a tentative agreement proposed earlier in July.

Some of their concerns had included a lack of paid sick days and inconsistent work schedules. DeSousa said that about 60 per cent of their members were part-time staff.

Included in the new agreement is a provision to turn 25 formerly part-time positions into full-time jobs, DeSousa said, adding that the new contract also improves job security.

“It was extremely important for our members to deal with the precarious work, and to be able to schedule better shifts, and have more work-life balance,” DeSousa said.

The new collective agreement for the Woodbine workers will expire on March 31, 2019, the union said.