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Montreal Casino Dealers on Strike, Seek Better Pay and Working Conditions

Dealers not getting enough rest

If you are considering heading to a casino in Montreal, it might not be a terrible idea to find another form of entertainment. On Saturday, Montreal croupiers (casino dealers) launched an “unlimited” general strike, picketing outside Casino de Montréal.

The croupiers cite wage cutbacks and poor working conditions for the strike, according to the Montreal Gazette. Poor working conditions appear to specifically refer to long hours without much in the way of respite.

“One in two of our employees suffers physical injuries due to the nature of the work, which includes dealing nearly 10,000 cards a day, five to six days a week,” union representative Jean-Pierre Proulx said. “After 15 years on the job, that starts to add up.”

The union’s collective bargaining agreement with the casino – which covered 521 dealers – expired over two years ago, on March 31, 2020, right at the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns. A new one has yet to be worked out and workers are frustrated with both their pay and schedules.

Pay is being slashed

Proulx told the Montreal Gazette than many dealers’ shifts have been shortened, so they often have to work six days a week just to get over 30 hours of pay.

Loto-Québec, which operates casinos in the province, says that the croupiers’ scheduling demands are unreasonable and that its casinos’ working conditions are good.

“However, the croupiers at the Montreal Casino are asking for 30 minutes of paid break for each hour worked. They would, therefore, spend more than 30 per cent of their shift on paid break, which is unusual in the industry,” the company said.

As to wages, Loto-Québec wants to cut starting hourly rates by over 5 percent, from CA$18.40 (US$18.45) an hour to CA$17.44 (US$13.60).

“In the current context of labor shortages, (the salary reduction) is irresponsible and the union will never accept it,” Proulx said. “We are demanding better management of work shifts and rest breaks to avoid injuries.”

Loto-Québec defended the proposed wage cut by countering that the company’s starting hourly rate is 20% higher than the industry standard.

Despite the strike, Loto-Québec says that Casino de Montréal is still operating as usual, with table games (how?), restaurants, shows, and slot machines all open. The one exception is the poker room, which is closed.

And though workers are on strike, negotiations have continued, as neither Loto-Québec nor the union wants ongoing labor strife. The company says that its goal is to come to a “responsible negotiated agreement.” From what has been reported so far, one would think the two sides could come to a compromise on breaks, but they do seem far apart on wage demands.

Image credit: Robbie Sproule via Flickr