On the Picket Line

Montreal Casino strikers enter third month on the picket line

By John Steele
August 8, 2022

MONTREAL — Montreal Casino strikers, members of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3939, are into their third month on strike for pay raises large enough to counter the impact of soaring inflation and for safer working conditions. They told Militant  worker-correspondents July 22 that they’ll continue to fight for what they need.

Over 500 card dealers walked out May 21 against Loto-Quebec, which operates all four government-run casinos in the province, as well as the lottery and sports betting. The casino in Montreal is the largest in Canada. It continues to operate through use of management personnel.

Some 50 workers walked the picket line near the casino underground parking lot. They were set up for the day with food, drinks, music and a tent for shelter, waving union flags to get the attention of casino clients driving into the lot. A number of bus drivers and others honked in solidarity.

Strikers were happy to discuss what they faced, but reluctant to give their names. The company is pressing them to accept the same agreement reached between casino workers and their bosses at other locations in the province.

The 70 dealers at the privately owned Charlevoix Casino northeast of Montreal, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers, accepted a raise of 11.5% over five years at the end of June, considerably less than the current inflation rate.

Strikers said their demands reflect higher living expenses in Montreal as well as health and safety issues. Because of abusive scheduling and lack of sufficient breaks, over half the workforce suffers from repetitive motion injuries, such as tendonitis, as well as back strain. Dealers at the blackjack table deal from 6,000 to 8,000 cards a shift. Many dealers work on-call shifts, with just three hours’ notice to show up for work.

Picket lines are up from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day and supporters are welcome. Send solidarity messages and contributions to SCFP-CUPE Local 3939 care of denis.galy@sccm3939.com.