Approximately 124 workers at OLG Slots at Rideau Carleton Raceway on Albion Road in Ottawa have been locked out of the gaming venue since its owner, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), locked out slots workers on December 15, 2015.
Management at the facility locked the doors to the slots due to stalled contract negotiations between a group of Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) workers and the OLG. The workers old agreement expired almost two years ago. The employees affected work on the gaming floor as technicians, slot attendants, and cashiers. Slots hours have been cut, but the dispute has not affected the racetrack.
PSAC workers said they haven’t received a raise since 2009 and they want to ensure their pension plans remain intact in case the OLG sells the venue to a private owner. The OLG, which recently settled another labor dispute with workers locked out at Brantford, Sudbury and Woodbine/Toronto, claims the 1.75 percent increase it is offering, only for 2016, is consistent with other casinos in the province, according to CBC News.
Pension plans and wages are the two key issues being negotiated. The OLG is prepared to raise workers’ wages, but insist that for the first two years of any new contract the wages be frozen. In addition, the OLG is demanding that workers agree to remove pension agreements currently in place in their current collective contract.
In fiscal 2014 the OLG registered a net profit of $2 billion, and during negotiations announced it expected an additional $2 billion profit margin for the following year. In 2014 alone OLG Slots generated $128.4 million in revenue, with 9.7 percent of that going toward staff salaries. A spokesperson for the workers said that they can’t understand the objection to a 3 percent wage increase, which would only increase the operating expenses of the venue by 16 percent or approximately $200,000 per year. They consider that to be a reasonable increase after having gone six years without a raise. Slots workers are concerned that the stage is being set by the OLG for the sale of the venue to a private operator. If the existing pension rights of the employees were given up it would make the sale much more financially attractive to interested buyers.
Since the lock-out began in December, it is rumored that revenues at OLG Slots at Rideau Carleton Raceway have fallen by $1 million. A rally in support of an improved pension plan for workers is scheduled for today at Queens Park in Toronto, according to Gaming Post.
Meanwhile, the locked-out workers are causing traffic-related safety issues on roads in the area of the venue and patrons are being harassed as part of their picketing, according to Ottawa Councillor George Darouze.
In an earlier version of this story we referred to OLG Slots at Rideau Carleton Raceway as “Rideau-Carleton Ottawa Raceway” which is a separate entity. Following is a press release received from Rideau-Carleton Ottawa Raceway today.
Ottawa. – Some of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming employees are involved in a labor action at the Rideau Carleton Racetrack and Slots. However, this labor dispute does not involve the Rideau Carleton Entertainment Centre or any of its employees. The racetrack is privately owned and operated. The labor dispute involves the OLG, operated by the Government of Ontario.
As property of Rideau Carleton, the restaurant, racetrack, teletheatre and the Bingo hall are all still operating as usual. Only the slots, operated by the OLG, are affected by this labor dispute. Both the OLG and its employees union continue to negotiate to bring this labor dispute to a conclusion. To learn more about Rideau Carleton Entertainment services, please visit: www.rcr.net