For immediate release
March 1, 2010
Politicians, labour call on Woodbine Entertainment Group to pay workers for lockout; condemn lack of fairness
TORONTO-Pressure by politicians and labour groups is mounting for Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) to pay their workers for the three days that they have been unfairly locked out of work at one of Canada’s highest earning race tracks.
City Councillor Joe Mihevc is circulating an open letter today among city councillors that scolds WEG for locking out 329 hospitality workers early Saturday morning before they had a chance to vote on WEG’s latest bargaining proposal. Along with approving tax breaks as a development incentive, the City is working with WEG on a massive mixed use retail/entertainment complex to be built at adjacent to the race track.
"A key reason that the City is a business partner with WEG is to create good jobs in our communities," says Mihevc. "To deny these workers the opportunity to have a fair vote on the proposals by locking them out is certainly not the kind of employee treatment that we would expect of our partners. The fact that these workers have had no income for three days is cruel."
At Queen’s Park, NDP Finance critic Peter Tabuns is condemning the excessive economic force brought against the Woodbine workers, many of whom are women and workers of colour. "The Province sets the parameters for WEG’s lucrative revenues by approving slot income and racing schedules. Locking out these workers rather than allowing them to vote yay or nay on the company’s offer makes a mockery of the democratic process," said Tabuns.
The province recently granted an additional 1,000 slots to Woodbine Entertainment Group, which generated $140 million in revenues in 2008 and saw an increase of 7% in wagering last year. The negotiations were focussed on improving conditions for the lowest paid workers at the race track, a third of who work part-time and have no benefits, according to UNITE HERE, the union representing the workers.
"This lock-out has unfairly punished workers who are trying to keep their families afloat on $12.62 and no benefits," said John Cartwright, President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council. "What’s equally dismaying is that this lock-out subverts any pretence that a vote on WEG’s final offer can be fair and balanced or anything but coercive."
Despite the lockout, members are proceeding to vote on WEG’s offer today. Unite Here Local 75 represents over 7000 hotel, hospitality and gaming workers in the Greater Toronto Area. For more information, please visit www.uniteherelocal75.org.