Unifor Casino Strike Ends in Ontario, Details Emerge About Worker Injured on Picket Line

Pickering Casino Resort and Casino Ajax workers have ended their strike after ratifying a new agreement on Friday with their employer, Great Canadian Entertainment (GCE).

GCE is the same company referred to as Great Canadian Gaming Corporation in previous articles. It has recently rebranded itself.

The two parties reached a tentative agreement on Aug 4. Unifor’s Communications Representative Ian Boyko confirmed to Bonus that they have since made the deal official, ending the two-week strike:

The strikes ended when the members voted to ratify the new agreement on Friday, August 5.

Unifor Members Bargained for Fair Wages

The strike came after over 2000 employees of GCE asked for fair wages, benefits, and pensions. They also demanded that GCE reduce its reliance on part-time positions and provide secure full-time jobs instead. Unifor made these demands on behalf of all its casino workers, including table game dealers, slot attendants, security, cashiers, and those working food and beverage, kitchen and culinary, guest services, housekeeping, and maintenance.

The union represents employees at eight GCE locations in Ontario, including Pickering and Ajax. The other six of these reached their agreements earlier in July. GCE management had not extended similar offers to workers at Pickering and Ajax, triggering the strike.

Striking Member Hit by Car, Leg Broken on Picket Line

As previously reported, Unifor has claimed that one of its picketing workers was hit by a car outside the GCE Woodbine Casino. Although that casino was among those that averted a strike, a secondary picket line had formed there to support the strike at nearby Pickering Casino Resort.

At the time, few details about the incident were available. However, the injured picketer, Ron Blakey, subsequently revealed some additional information in an interview with the Toronto Star.

Blakey explained that the driver was impatient with waiting times in the queue to cross the picket line outside the casino. He described the driver as belligerent and recalled that when the picketers removed pylons to allow other cars to flow through, the driver aggressively tried to cut in line. Here’s what happened next, in Blakey’s own words:

I was in front of his vehicle, I tried to get out of the way – I hopped onto his car. I fell off, and he ran over my leg.

Blakey told the Star that he suffered a broken leg and a damaged ankle.

Initial reports by Unifor alleged that GCE allowed the driver to enter the casino and stay for several hours.

GCE has not confirmed those allegations, though Unifor has asked the company to condemn the driver’s actions. Blakey says he spoke with Toronto police and provided them with the driver’s license plate. However, police have not said whether they have located the driver or expect any charges to result from the incident.

About the Author

Katy Jean

Katy Jean

Katy Jean is a writer and regular contributor to Bonus. She’s also a front page writer for The Nova Scotian in The Chronicle Herald, delivering news focused on her home province. Katy rose to prominence on Twitter as a source of information on public health briefings, politics, and access to services during the COVID-19 pandemic. She began writing for Online Poker Report in January 2022, concentrating on the Ontario iGaming launch, including its impact on First Nations. At Bonus, she continues to use plain language to help new readers understand the complex online gambling industry, while adding her own expert insight.
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