CAW Calls for Complete Shutdown at Great Blue Heron Casino if Work Disruption Occurs

August 30, 2011, 11:10 AM EST

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CAW President Ken Lewenza is calling for the province to mandate a complete shutdown of Great Blue Heron Casino in Port Perry in the case of a lock-out or strike at the facility.

"The government of Ontario, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario must move quickly to halt operations at the facility, should there be a labour dispute," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. 

CAW Local 1090 represents more than 790 full-time and part-time workers at the casino, whose agreement expires on Wednesday, August 31.  The union has been in negotiations with the casino for more than a month, with little progress being made.

The Great Blue Heron has already begun interviewing new workers who would be used as replacement workers (scabs) in the case of a strike or lockout.

"Abusing workers' rights in the name of charity is unacceptable and the province, along with the AGCO and OLG, must put a stop to it immediately, particularly in the case of using scabs."

The Great Blue Heron casino has also fought union attempts to file for conciliation to reach a new collective agreement. Lewenza said that employers fighting conciliation is very unusual and is normally a clear indication that the company is trying to incite a labour dispute. The casino also recently erected a large fence around the entire facility, creating a fortress-like atmosphere.

Additionally, the CAW has been tied up at the Ontario Labour Relations Board as the Great Blue Heron attempts to fight an organizing bid of the security personnel.

Lewenza said that the bargaining committee has tabled reasonable proposals well within the employer's ability to pay.  "This facility is not strictly a business that donates to charity, it's also a profit-making entity.  Our members have been instrumental on the success of this workplace and that must be reflected in the next collective agreement."

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