In a high-stakes negotiation that required overtime, a last-minute tentative deal was reached this morning between Casino Rama and Unifor Local 1090, the union representing more than 1,400 employees.
"The union and company have reached a tentative agreement," said a notice from Unifor posted on its Facebook page at 3 a.m.
A strike deadline had been set for midnight. But a few hours prior to that, both sides agreed to extend the opportunity for negotiation until 4 a.m. It was enough to get a deal done, keep the casino open and avert a strike. For now.
Workers will be asked to ratify the deal Saturday.
While neither side was available for comment this morning after almost 18 hours of marathon negotations, which included a back-and-forth presentation of proposals, union officials had claimed Casino Rama employees were the lowest paid in the province.
In an interview prior to the onset of negotiations in December, Corey Dalton, president of Unifor Local 1090, said Casino Rama employees entered noegitiations with “high expectations.”
“Casino Rama members are, on average, the lowest compensated workers in the industry in the province,” Dalton said at the time, noting Rama employees also have “the lowest wages, weakest benefit package and weakest pension package.”
Earlier this month, union members voted 95 per cent in favour of a strike if negotiations between the union and Gateway Casinos and Entertainment, the operator of Casino Rama, failed.
Both sides maintained throughout the process that a strike was a "last resort."
However, earlier in the week, things did not look good. On Jan. 21, Unifor posted a notice to employees about Gateway's initial "monetary" offer.
"It is clear from their proposal, the employer is not prepared to reach a fair and equitable agreement with Unifor. (They) ... have clearly refused to recognize the hard work, contributions and value our members bring to the workplace."
The notice went on to say Unifor will work toward a tentative agreement but noted the employer "needs to start making serious proposals. We will not accept less than what our members deserve."