No dice: Caesars Windsor workers reject new deal

Caesars Windsor employees gather at the WFCU Centre Friday to vote on a new deal reached between management and union leaders.

About 53 per cent of members voted 'no' to what was laid out for them Friday.

Caesars Windsor employees flock to the WFCU Centre on Friday, May 18, 2018 to vote on a new contract. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Caesars Windsor employees have rejected the new deal presented to them.

About 53 per cent of members voted 'no' to what was laid out for them Friday. In the last vote, 59 per cent voted to reject a tentative deal.

"I don't know where we're at right now," said Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444.

Cassidy sounded surprised and defeated after workers rejected the deal he spent more than two days negotiating. 

"There's a lot of workplace issues. A lot has built up over the years," he said. 

Many employees exited the doors of the WFCU Centre — where they gathered to cast their votes — booing. Some said the new deal is very similar to the one presented to them 43 days ago. 

"This says quite conceivably I could be on a smoking floor all day," said Mary Hansen as she exited the meeting. "All day. I don't smoke it makes me sick. I have asthma."

Caesars Windsor employee Mary Hansen said it's not just about the money for her. (Mary Hansen)

Hansen has been working at the casino for the last 18 years. She's currently in house keeping. 

"It wasn't about money for me. To me it was about full-time jobs. It's about being at a company giving 18 years of your life to a company and still being part-time." 

In a released statement, Caesars Windsor said the property would remain closed and there are no plans to return to the bargaining table at this time.

"We are incredibly disappointed in the outcome of today's vote which was fully endorsed by both the Unifor National and Local 444 Bargaining teams," said Kevin Laforet, regional president of Caesars Entertainment, in the statement.

"The agreement is more than fair and sustainable," he said.

Laforet offered an apology to customers, saying the losses to the company go "well beyond revenue."

Friends of Erlinda Roque, centre, console her. Roque wanted to go back to work. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

"I want to go back to work. I want to have my regular life... not this," said Erlinda Roque, who has worked at the casino for 24 years.

Roque said it's the best job she's ever had, although she has had some trouble with management.

"We can't have everything in life, we have to learn to work with things we are given," she said.

"They're asking for a lot of ridiculous things."

Unifor Local 444's bargaining team and Caesars management met on Tuesday for the first time in weeks to work out a tentative agreement. A provincial mediator also worked with their teams.

On Thursday, union president Dave Cassidy was urging members to vote "yes" to the deal.

"I squeezed that cloth and there was not a drop left in it," said Cassidy of the agreement reached at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning. 

But for Hansen, and some workers like her, the deal doesn't seem to be enough.

"It's an insult to me," she said. "I know people think we're greedy — it's not about money it's about the things."

Workers have said "respect" was a big part of what they were looking for. Hansen just wants another uniform so she's not doing laundry every other day.

"It's about uniforms, so I can do my job ... it's about outsourcing," she said. 

What was in the deal?

Documents handed to staff outline some of the details in the new contract agreement. 

They show a wage increase of $2.25 over the next four years and a signing bonus for full-time employees of $1,600, $1,200 for part-time employees and $675 for casual employees.