Unionized casino employees in the Okanagan will be going back to work after ratifying a new contract on Friday, ending a lengthy strike that lasted 19 weeks.
According to the B.C. Government Employees Union, the four-year deal includes improved benefits plus an average 23.5 per cent wage increase during the life of the contract. The BCGEU says nearly 700 unionized employees at Gateway Casino locations in Kelowna, Kamloops Vernon and Penticton will be going back to work this weekend.
“I am so impressed by the solidarity and courage of our members,” Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU, said in a press release. “They should be proud of what they achieved by sticking together throughout the bargaining process, especially over the past 19 weeks on the picket line.”
In an email to Global News, Gateway Casinos said the new collective agreement “includes immediate wage increases for every employee and a robust compensation package over the term of the agreement that is accompanied by a wide array of non-monetary benefits.”
The four casinos are Cascades Casinos in Kamloops and Penticton, Lake City Casino in Vernon and Playtime Casino in Kelowna.
Smith also said “our members are going back to work, which is great news. But the ratification vote was close, which means there is more work to be done in all four of these workplaces. That work starts as soon as the picket lines come down.”
Last week, on Thursday, November 1st, a tentative agreement was reached between Gateway Casinos and the BCGEU. The strike began in late June, when workers at Gateway Casinos in Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton walked off the job.
With the strike now resolved, Gateway Casinos said “we are pleased with the outcome of the vote and thank the bargaining committees that worked tirelessly to design an agreement that would fairly reward our employees while remaining reasonable for the businesses we operate in these communities.
“We know the past few months have been challenging for all involved and we thank our customers for their patience and loyalty throughout the labour disruption. We now turn our full attention back to our business and are committed to a smooth return to regular business over the coming weeks.”