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CAW OLG Members Update
Published: April 24, 2012

Representatives from Sudbury Downs, Brantford Casino, Woodbine Security and Mohawk Security met with representatives from the OLG on Tuesday, April 24, 2012.

The purpose of the meeting was to allow the CAW to put forth our position regarding the OLG's modernization plan and to seek clarification on how that plan will affect our current members.

Modernization Announcement

In March 2012 the Ontario Government, along with the OLG, announced a modernization plan that was developed as a result of a 2 year review of gaming in the province of Ontario. The Union expressed, in no uncertain terms, our frustration with no workers, no workers representatives and no community groups being consulted during the review process - a process that began in December 2010. The fact that the OLG met with 50 stakeholder groups and did not meet with their workers or the workers representatives, is a clear indication that the interest of the members and the communities was not a factor in their decision to radically change the face of gaming in the province.

This plan had for the first time, the OLG directly targeting groups or individuals to begin and/or continue to gamble. Under the disguise of modernization, the OLG is going to bring gaming to your front door, to the heart of the communities. In their plan, the clear target is the 19 to 45 year old demographic. As part of their plan, they openly state that getting people gambling younger will ensure a long term customer base.

The OLG plan says that modernization will enable them to increase expected profits by an additional 4.6 billion dollars over 6 years. That means that the gaming patrons, almost exclusively Ontario residents, are being targeted to lose an additional 4.6 billion dollars. This will be attained in part, by developing new games, new sites closer to where you work and live and increasing the number of gamblers.

The plan pulls on the usual hot button issues like funding health care, charities etc, no doubt Toronto will be induced to fund public transit! Remember the good old days when corporate and income taxes funded such things? The Union will comment more on the actual plan at a follow up date.

Issues of Concern

The Union raised numerous issues of concern at the meeting on behalf of our membership. What are the specific plans for each site? What will the affect be on our members' pensions? Will the Union and the contract continue to be recognized? Will seniority be maintained? Will there be severance packages bargained? Will staffing levels be maintained? Will current full time and part time ratios be maintained? How many current OLG salary and non-Union will go to work at the new companies? Will there be a geographical protection of employment and Union recognition? What sites will continue to operate at the current locations? Many more issues were raised.

The number one issue on our members' minds is, will your site continue to operate?

We were told that a process will begin where private sector operators will be sought to bid on operating gaming with a zone. The current operating agreement with all raceways and the OLG will be terminated effective March 2013. The OLG would not confirm that current sites will continue to operate, will close or relocate after March of next year. There are three raceway OLG sites that will cease to operate May 1st 2012: Fort Erie, Windsor and Hiawatha. According to the OLG, there is no planned next wave of closures to be announced.

Unfortunately there are no concrete answers for any of our questions. We were basically told what is already public knowledge. The only new information gained was that there would be 29 sites (a zone for each site) in the new business model. The zones are not identified.

Representatives from the Ontario Pension Board (OPB) were there to talk about the contents of the current plan and its transfer provisions. There is no certainty as to what will happen to the pension in terms of whether we continue to belong to the plan or whether we can bargain an identical plan that will maintain current benefits.

The issue of maintaining the collective agreement at the current site and within the zones is perhaps the most important issues. We do have rights under current labour laws with regard to successor rights and sale of business. However we have asked the employer to ensure that recognition of the Union and the Contract should be written into any business arrangement that is entered into with any new owner or operator of a gaming site within the zones. The employer needs to make it clear to anyone who is going to operate at a site or in a zone where the Union is recognized, that recognition will not be challenged. We need to protect your seniority rights, wages, benefits etc.

We do not want to get into facing an anti-union agenda from a new employer. We currently have experienced the most anti-union attack on workers at Casino Niagara. They employ high priced law firms using tax payers dollars (mostly Ontario customers) to prevent workers from using their collective strength in dealing with an employer.

There is another fear here - the majority of raceways where the OLG operates are Canadian owned, this modernization plan may have the affect of transferring ownership to foreign operators. That is certainly the case at Niagara, Rama and Windsor. This is another reason why the OLG needs to ensure that new owner operators need to be neutral with regards to the Union at new sites.

We are going to schedule a follow up meeting to hopefully clarify the issues raised. Subsequent to that we will schedule membership meetings at each location to ensure a complete sharing of our discussion with the OLG with you.

In Solidarity,
Your CAW OLG Bargaining Committees

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