Workers at River Rock Casino vote to strike

The fun could soon be on hold at B.C.’s largest casino, after workers there voted in favour of strike action this week.

About 1,100 employees could be on the picket line if dispute over wages isn't resolved

Unionized employees at the River Rock Casino have voted 99.4 per cent in favour of strike action.

The fun could soon be on hold at B.C.'s largest casino after workers there voted in favour of strike action this week.

At the centre of the dispute at Richmond's River Rock Casino is pay and fair scheduling, according to Paul Finch, secretary-treasurer of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union, which represents the workers.

"Some of these workers make minimum wage, some of them haven't seen a raise in over eight years, and in some cases the wage increases they have seen have only come up with increases in minimum wage," Finch said.

"They're very far behind a lot of other unionized casinos in the province."

Workers at River Rock only voted to join the union in January 2016 and have been in bargaining for more than a year with their employer, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation.

The workers tabled a proposal for pay increases in May, but Great Canadian responded in July with a plan to roll back wages instead, according to Finch.

"For the highest grossing casino in the province, it's unacceptable," he said.

About 1,100 workers would be on the picket line if they aren't able to resolve the dispute with their employer.

Employer 'hopeful' about resolution

The employees — who include dealers, cashiers and other workers on the floor — voted 99.4 per cent in favour of job action, with 88 per cent of eligible workers casting a ballot, Finch said.

Michael Kim, River Rock's general manager of casino operations, said he was unable to comment on the potential for a strike.

"River Rock Casino Resort respects the bargaining process with the BCGEU and we are hopeful that an agreement between the two parties will be reached," Kim said in a written statement.

The next step is for the two sides to go to mediation, according to Finch.

"If there isn't a resolution there that's suitable, this will definitely go to a strike," he said.

Just this week, Great Canadian announced revenues of $161 million from its 19 properties for the second quarter of 2017. The company was also awarded the right to operate three facilities in Ontario with gambling revenues of more than $1 billion last year.