Locked out OLG workers, members of Unifor working at Sudbury Downs, Casino Brantford and Woodbine Racetrack, voted overwhelmingly in support of a new collective agreement on October 13th, officially putting an end to a lockout that lasted three weeks.
“Our members are certainly relieved,” said Anne-Marie MacInnis, president of Mine Mill Local 598 Unifor which represents the workers at Sudbury Downs. “We’ve said since the beginning we just wanted to get back to the bargaining table and back to work.”
As part of the OLG’s modernization plan, OLG workers are no longer eligible for their current pension plan. Talks broke down regarding the terms of a new retirement plan. Workers were locked out on September 19.
“Our members rallied day in and day out to send a clear message to the OLG – that we are willing to stand up for the right to negotiate the terms of our pension plan,” said Dave Reston, president of Unifor Local 504 which represents the Brantford workers.
The new agreement includes language that ensures that after the completion of the sale, the new operator will have to immediately implement a registered pension plan and that the terms of this new plan may be the subject of negotiations within six months of taking from the date the new owner assumed operation of the site. The agreement also includes wage improvements, a signing bonus, and a number of contract language improvements.
Unifor attributes the strong public support they received on the picket lines and the strength of their public outreach to the OLG’s shift at the bargaining table.
“We felt a tremendous amount of support from the public,” said Paul Shiels, president of Unifor Local 252 representing Woodbine Racetrack workers. “As soon as patrons heard what the issue was about and that the employer had locked us out, they were turning around. There’s no doubt this had a big economic impact on the OLG.”
In addition to daily pickets, the members held a series of rallies, including two that drew hundreds of members from across the province to Woodbine Racetrack. One of these rallies, held on Friday October 2, effectively shut down the racetrack for several hours.
“I’m incredibly proud of the strength and determination our members showed during this lockout,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Our members showed that they had the strength and determination to stand up for their right to negotiate the terms of their pension plan.”
“Unifor represents roughly 10,000 members in the gaming sector across Canada and this struggle demonstrates our commitment to protect and enhance workers’ rights within the sector,” said Unifor President Jerry Dias.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.