Employees of Campbell River Chances Community Gaming went on strike early this morning

Employees of Chances officially off the job

Union asking the public not to take their business to either the Campbell River or Courtenay Chances facilities

Campbell River’s Chances Community Gaming Centre is open, but their employees aren’t in the building.

United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 (USW 1-1937), who represent the employees, announced 72-hour strike notice two weeks ago, “to attempt to get the discussion (about their contract) moving,” according to Chris Marleau of the employees’ bargaining committee, but decided to give Playtime Gaming, who own and operate the facility, time to consider their position before implementing job action.

According to the employees, however, their strike threat didn’t result in the employer changing their stance, and, as such, they launched their strike on Wednesday morning, and were promptly locked out by Playtime.

“We’d intended to strike today and tomorrow (Wednesday and Thursday) and be back at work on Friday,” Marleau said while on the picket line Wednesday morning, “but now we’ve heard we’re probably going to be locked out from going back.”

It tuned out that they already were – they just hadn’t been told yet.

Lincoln Reid, Director of Human Resources and Compliance for Playtime, said via press release, that “the Union commenced job action by rotating strike despite having a fair and generous offer from the Company,” and because the strike will make it “very difficult for us to operate our business and meet our guest’s expectations while also meeting our regulatory requirements,” Playtime had no option but to initiate a lockout immediately upon the action being taken by the Union.

Todd Pimlott, who works security at the facility, is particularly upset with the tip-pooling situation, saying, among some other statements that can’t be printed in a community paper, that “it’s ridiculous that some people make way more after tips than the people who don’t get them, especially when they haven’t been there as long.”

Pimlott said he’s been working at the facility for over four and a half years, and has received a total of a $.54 per hour increase in pay over that time. He also feels it’s unfair that new employees are hired at a higher wage than those who have been there for some time, and chalks that situation up to the expectation, which he said are stated in their hiring packages, that employees are “not supposed to discuss wages amongst ourselves, because they don’t want (what people earn) to be widely known,” especially amongst the staff, as it would cause tension in the ranks because, as Pimlott said, “they’ll realize they’re not being treated fairly.”

“Fairness” is, in fact, the common term being used at the picket line as the main reason the job action escalated in the first place.

“We’re just trying to get a fair wage that’s comparable to other people doing the same job other places,” Marleau said, citing the contract the employees are under at the Abbotsford Chances facility. “We don’t necessarily want what they have, but something even remotely comparable would be nice.”

It could be a protracted job action, as well, according to Rick Wangler, First Vice President of USW 1-1937, as there is strike pay available from the Union to workers who are affected, meaning they won’t be out-of-pocket for their time off.

“We actually told the employer that some of these people could stand to make more by receiving strike pay than they do by working. Their wages are that low,” Wangler said from the picket line. “I think they’re going to find it much harder to end this strike than it was to start it.”

Playtime is inviting the public to call their information hotline at 250-286-1442 for any information about adjustments to the facility’s hours of operation for the duration of the lockout.

USW 1-1937 is asking the public not to take their business to either the Campbell River or Courtenay Chances facilities until the dispute is resolved.