A tentative agreement was reached on Friday between unionized workers at a casino and two Ontario racetracks and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), according to a statement issued on Sunday.
Since September 19 almost 1,0000 unionized workers have been locked out at OLG run Sudbury Downs in Chelmsford, Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack and Casino Brantford when the terms for a new retirement plan could not be agreed upon between OLG and Unifor which represents workers at all three facility’s. In spite of ongoing talks for a new pension plan, terms were only agreed upon this weekend. Discussions were necessary due to OLG’s recent announcement of a “modernization” plan the terms of which made workers ineligible for their original plan.
The striking workers are part of Unifor, Canada’s largest union in the private sector. Unifor was formed in 2013 when the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union and Canadian Auto Workers merged. It represents more than 310,000 workers, including casino workers and 40,000 workers from the auto sector.
Unifor’s Assistant to Secretary-Treasurer, Bob Orr said, “Unifor members were determined to protect their retirement security,” and “With their strength and tremendous public support, we are optimistic we have reached a good deal,” according to Unifor’s Press Room statement. However, specific details about the terms of the agreement won’t be revealed by either side until workers from the Casino Brantford and the two racetracks have voted on the proposal and it has been ratified.
The “modernization” refers to an agreement penned recently between Ontario Gaming East Limited Partnership and OLG. Expected to take place early next year, the transition includes turning over day-to-day operations of the OLG Slots at Kawartha Downs and OLG Casino Thousand Islands for the next 20 years. A majority interest in Ontario Gaming East (OGE) is held by the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation which operates gaming facilities in the United States and Canada. In addition, OGE is required to retain current employees for the minimum of one year in their current geographic location and positions, and must provide eligible employees with a registered pension plan and benefits.
Ratification of the agreement will effectively end the lockout, but it remains unclear as to when the vote will take place or when the three venues would commence normal operations.