OTTAWA Contract talks have broken off between unionized security staff at Rideau Carleton Raceway Slots and the employer. The 38 security staff, who have given their union a 100 per cent strike mandate, could be on strike as early as 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 7.
At issue are benefits, as well as parking charges if there is a move to a new facility. Greg McVeigh, staff negotiator for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, said the position the employer has taken is both ridiculous, and mean-spirited.
"We have already offered to take a wage freeze, which means employee wages will be frozen for a total five years," McVeigh said. "All the staff here want is to have their benefits, which are below security staff at all other OLG gaming facilities, on par with other security staff. The total cost for all 38 staff is only $4,000, yet the employer refuses to move on this issue."
The largest issue for the members is parking. Currently, there is no fee to park at Rideau Carleton. However, if a new owner takes over operations and moves the facility downtown, parking could cost as much as $20 per day, a cost the employer wants employees to pay as well.
"Security staff earn less than $20 per hour," McVeigh said. "These parking charges would reduce their income by 12.5 per cent, which is a massive hit. This is not a cost item for the employerâ€¦it"s additional revenue, and they want to claw it out of their own employees. They should be ashamed of that."
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas believes that the gaming operation, which earns $142 million per year in revenue, is trying to make itself as attractive as possible for the new buyer, possibly Caesar"s Entertainment Inc. "Rideau Carleton cares more about the sale of the business than the welfare of their employees, and their actions at the bargaining table prove that," Thomas said. "These employees keep everyone at this gaming operation safe and secure. To treat them this way is, in our opinion, completely pathetic."
Talks are set to resume on Feb. 6 with the assistance of a provincial mediator.
Greg McVeigh: 519-831-3472
Pierre Mainville, 1st Vice-President, OPSEU Local 495: 819-360-5901