Posted on: June 9, 2022, 12:49 p.m.
Last update on: June 9, 2022, 01:22h.
Unionized workers at MGM Resorts International’s Gold Strike Hotel & Casino in Tunica, Mississippi, are getting wage increases under a new three-year collective bargaining agreement.
The agreement was unanimously approved by various trade unions. Among the Gold Strike staff receiving raises are 50 members of Teamsters Local 667 who work at the site as front desk staff, customer service staff, draftsmen and limousine drivers, telephone operators, servants and warehouse workers.
Salaries will help with retention and recruitment,” said Veronica Sawyer, deputy director of the Teamsters convention, trade show and casino division, in a statement.
The Teamsters won wage increases ranging from $1.25 to $4.50 an hour. Under the union’s new agreement with Gold Strike, wages are expected to increase by 2% in 2023 and 3.5% the following year.
In a tight labor market, workers hold cards
Regardless of industry, workers hold tremendous power in today’s tight labor market, and this is true in the casino gaming industry.
As regional casinos, such as Gold Strike, have been hailed for increasing their margins in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, operators face a slippery slope of laying off staff to keep margins high or risk losing customers due to poor service.
“MGM was unable to hire because salaries were not competitive,” Sawyer added.
A recent report by Bank of America analyst Shaun Kelley indicates that the number of employees at gaming companies remains well below the highs seen before the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our average business has 27% fewer employees at the end of 2021 compared to 2019. So we believe margin expansion is less related to reduced promotion, marketing, or leveraging of non-sustainable costs, and more to the pure workforce”, says the analyst in his note.
Yet the combination of a tight labor market, many workers choosing not to return after COVID-19, and many others leaving the service industry for other opportunities has caused some casino operators to unveil benefits for attract and retain staff. This is the case at Gold Strike.
“Workers will receive bonuses ranging from $500 to $2,500 depending on years of service, and bellboys will receive automatic tips for handling group baggage, as well as delivering packages to guest rooms,” according to the Teamsters.
MGM is hiring
MGM, the largest operator on the Las Vegas Strip, is among the gaming companies currently hiring and doing so across the country. The company is currently looking to fill nearly 1,100 positions in casinos, restaurants and hotels, according to its careers website. This is just a glimpse of the roles MGM is trying to fill.
Including Gold Strike, Mississippi is home to more than 30 commercial and tribal casinos, several of which rank among the largest employers in the state.
MGM also operates Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi. Including the Mississippi locations, the company operates eight US casinos located outside of Las Vegas.