Gateway & Unifor Reach Benefits Agreement

By Ben Hamill - July 10 2020

Gateway & Unifor Reach Benefits Agreement

Gambling industry labour union Unifor and Canadian operator Gateway Casinos & Entertainment have after protracted negotiations and a threat of legal action reportedly reached an agreement in regard to the extension of employee benefits. It seems as if Gateway employees in Ontario and British Columbia can once again rely on ongoing benefits as per the provisions contained in earlier agreements between the union and the employer.

Unifor Local 1090 last month lodged a labour-violation complaint against Gateway Casinos & Entertainment. The union was at the time quoted as saying that even though it recognises the fact that the industry is facing unprecedented challenges due to country-wide closures, it considered Gateway’s behaviour to be appalling. Not only did the operator according to Unifor renege on previous employer-employee agreements but had also stooped to new lows by trying to manipulate union representatives into agreeing to the complete forfeiture of certain benefits.

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Unifor Lashes Out

Gateway’s approach to workers employed at its Casino Rama made headlines last month when Unifor blew the whistle on the operator having tried to bamboozle the union and its employees into agreeing to, amongst other things, combining several positions, the forfeiture rights related to dealer breaks, the closure of the employee cafeteria at the Casino Rama, and the shutting down of the employee shuttle service carrying workers between the casino and the resort.

The operator had reportedly also been slow to approach the Canada’s Emergency Wage Subsidy fund for relief for its employees and even appeared unwilling to consider the extension of employee benefits unless the employees were willing to bear all costs associated with said extensions out of their own already cash-strapped pockets.  

Country-Wide Challenges

But Casino Rama employees weren’t the only ones affected by Gateway’s initial refusal to extend benefits past June 30. Ontario casinos were affected too, including Cascades Chatham, Gateway Casinos Sarnia, Gateway Casinos Innisfil Security, Gateway Casinos Sudbury, and Starlight Point Edward. British Columbia-based workers include those employed at Chances Kamloops, Grand Villa Burnaby Surveillance, and Chances Williams Lake.

Gateway CEO Tony Santo has in the meantime voiced his approval over the reaching of a more inclusive and mutually beneficial agreement with Unifor and its represented members. The operator is currently in the process of preparing for the safe and health-compliant reopening of its casino’s country-wide. Canadian provinces have been following a phased reopening approach and land-based casinos hope to be allowed to reopen soon.

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