Finding some middle ground

Penn Entertainment, the owner of two Hollywood casinos in Ohio, has reached a tentative agreement with a couple of unions over new contracts for employees. The agreement came on Thursday evening, just in time to prevent the strike planned for midnight.

tentative four-year agreement

Hollywood Casino Columbus and Hollywood Casino Toledo are the two properties involved. A tentative four-year agreement was reached. It increases the wages of the casino workers to their highest point since Ohio has had commercial casinos.

Hard negotiating

Commenting on the terms of the agreement, International Steelworkers Local 1-346 staff representative Eric Sweeney deemed it a “pretty historical deal” for casino workers.

Around 900 unionized employees work at the casinos, with approximately half of them represented by the Steelworkers union. The United Auto Workers union represents the remaining unionized workers, with both bodies working off the same contract.

Casino staff members had planned to strike at the end of Thursday if an agreement wasn’t signed. Penn Entertainment had not made an offer by mid-afternoon that day. It was at about 6pm that Penn eventually agreed to certain wage provisions that the unions were proposing.

Penn Entertainment is one of the biggest casino companies in the US, operating about 40 properties around the country. This includes four casinos in Ohio.

Assessing the new contract

The workers had previously been receiving $6.36 per hour in base pay, excluding tips. They sought a raise to at least $7.25 per hour to ease their reliance on patron generosity. They also wanted more affordable healthcare insurance. When tips are included, union-represented workers at the casino make about $20 per hour.

Workers will receive information next week about the new deal. It is likely then that a ratification vote will take place during the first week in January. If workers approve the new contract it will be retroactive to December 1, 2021 – the expiration date for the previous contract.