Great Blue Heron Charity Casino Workers Win First

Port Perry, Ontario

July 19, 2004

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Great Blue Heron Charity Casino Workers Win First Contract
Great Blue Heron Charity Casino Workers Win First Contract
dated July 19, 2004

Port Perry, Ontario
July 17, 2004

       As the heat of summer settled in on the Great Blue Heron Charity Casino in Port Perry, Ontario, its 700 employees embarked on a new era, as they ratified their first contract as members of the Canadian Auto Workers union.
       After hearing the details from the bargaining committee, they voted 77 per cent in favour of the three year agreement, which gives them a dollar an hour increase in the first year and fifty cent an hour increases in years two and three. Hemi Mitic, assistant to CAW national president Buzz Hargrove said the contract also eliminated existing pay inequities.

Hemi Mitic
Assistant to CAW national president

       "We had a lot of people who were way, way below the maximum rate range. As a result of the ratification of the agreement some people will be getting two and three dollars an hour across the board immediately as they head into this collective agreement."

       Last week the members voted 91 per cent in favour of strike action and that played a key role in reaching an agreement. Mike Reuter, CAW national rep. said they now have the tools to represent workers on the job.

Mike Reuter
CAW National Rep

       "Our goal here was to establish the key principles of the union; that being full time representation, full time chair, full time committee people, full time health and safety reps, so they could administer the collective agreement along with protecting the rights inside the workplace. So we are ecstatic that we have achieved full time committee people and a full time chairperson to start building the union."

       The contract marks the end of a two and a half year fight to certify the union at Great Blue Heron. A key player in that fight, bargaining chairperson Kim Dalton is now confident about the future.

Kim Dalton
Bargaining Committee Chairperson

       "I see employees that are going to be much happier in the workplace therefore I'm hoping the attendance problem that we have been dealing with for so long will improve. The service to the public I can see improving as a result of happier employees. I can see nothing but a much better working relationship with the managers in there."

       With the victory at the Great Blue Heron Charity Casino behind them, Mitic said the CAW is now moving ahead in its organizing drives at other casinos in Ontario.

Hemi Mitic
Assistant to CAW national president

       "I think it is going to help us. We used the Windsor Casino as a template here, which gave us the arguments. Now that we have this group under contract we'll use those arguments to the rest of the casino industry and hopefully that will help us bring the other workers into the CAW and show them that we can do the job for them as well."

CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."

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