Dealer flash strike at Casino de Montreal as poker room remains shuttered

Haley Hintze
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Posted on: May 16, 2022 9:08 pm EDT

Dealers and croupiers at Quebec’s Casino de Montreal have taken to calling flash strikes to continue protesting the casino’s continuing failure to resume negotiations with the dealers union or re-staff the casino to levels that existed prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Casino de Montreal’s poker room remains shuttered, while other table games remain staffed at reduced levels.

Calling the situation a massive series of “hidden layoffs,” the casino’s union, CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees), organized at least two separate four-hour walkouts in recent days. The dealers’ union authorized such strikes in a March vote. The dealer force, which it its peak counted 521 employees, has worked without a contract since March 31, 2020.

“We need more openness from the employer during the mediation sessions, which will take place from next Tuesday,” said CUPE union representative Jean-Pierre Proulx on Sunday. “With the actions of today and yesterday, the dealers have demonstrated their readiness to mobilize and their determination to reach a satisfactory agreement.”

The flash strikes were designed to interrupt the casino’s activities during their busiest hours, from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm each day. The striking dealers and croupiers donned t-shirts proclaiming their issue and protested outside the casino for the Saturday and Sunday walkouts.

Strikes authorized via March vote

In March, when over 97 percent of the CUPE-represented dealers voted to authorize a strike, CUPE stated, “What is particular about this situation is that even if the employer called back all dealers, only 60 per cent of the tables would be operational. We have already lost a lot of workers. If a dealer doesn’t reopen their gaming table, the players will go elsewhere. Government-run casinos are the place where gambling is framed in the safest and most responsible way. They must therefore be protected because they generously fill the coffers of the government.”

Casino de Montreal is operated by Loto-Quebec, which as a government entity gives its employees agency to unionize. The ongoing employment situation, however, is being portrayed by CUPE as a bad-faith stance, since the basic tenets of the expired collective bargaining agreement remain in force.

While non-binding mediation sessions may resume this week, there’s no indication from Casino de Montreal that its shuttered poker room will reopen any time soon. “Operations at the gaming tables will continue,” said the casino, in a brief statement to a Montreal news outlet. “The most popular games, such as blackjack, roulette, and baccarat, will be on offer, but the poker room will be closed. All other activities, such as restaurants, shows, or slot machine games, will take place normally.”

Featured image source: Loto-Quebec