Employees picket after OLG locks them out


On May 3, 2015, the contract of the unionized employees of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) Casino Brantford expired. The deadline for negotiations was extended until 12:00 a.m. on September 20, and the employees of OLG Casino Brantford showed up to negotiate on September 18 and 19. At approximately 4:00 p.m. on Friday, September 19, OLG lawyers stood up and walked away from the table in unison. This caused the negotiations to stop and have forced a lock out for 650 employees.

“They are only running slot machines,” said Ken Wight, an OLG Casino employee. “There are no table games, there is no restaurant.”

The Woodbine security team and the Sudbury employees have also been forced out onto the picket line. No employees know how long they will be forced out of work, and many have started to find second jobs.

“The OLG branch of Ontario Government has locked out their employees over a pension,” said Dave Reston, president of Unifor Local 504. OLG lawyers have not been in touch since Friday afternoon.

Numerous patrons have showed their support by honking their horns as they drive by the picket line or by turning around and leaving the Casino once they realize what is happening. The employees are following protocol by holding up each car five minutes while they explain their situation in hopes of gaining support. “This is an information picket. We have the right under legislation to provide people with the information that they need to understand what’s going on with the labour stop,” Reston said.

OLG Casino employees have noticed the decrease in patrons since the lockout began on Friday. “Last night, being a Saturday night, generally we have anywhere between [800] and 900 customers in that building. At 10:00 last night we had under 100,” Wight said.

Non-unionized supervisors and managers have been trained to do the jobs of the locked out employees, though sources say the customers are not very happy with the service they are getting.

The employees are currently receiving no pay or benefits. “We’ll get union pay once a week, but not sustainable,” said OLG Casino employee, Diane Tocher. “We are having our meeting tomorrow to set up our shifts to come out and picket, so that’s tomorrow at two.”

Though many patrons support the unionized employees, several simply want to gain access to the casino without having to wait five minutes to go in. Aggression has become apparent towards the picketers and some have even been assaulted. The employees of OLG casino want to have a peaceful lockout and spread the word of their situation. The employees are waiting for the OLG lawyers to tell them they are ready to negotiate.

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