Macau Casino Unions Want Three Percent Pay Increase in 2019

Macau casino unions that represent thousands of gaming industry workers are demanding their members receive at least a three percent wage increase in 2019.

Macau casino unions aren't threatening to picket as they did here in 2014, but leaders are hoping the six licensed operators agree to increase pay in 2019. (Image: Reuters)

GGRAsia, an online media outlet focused on Asian gaming industry matters, reports that at least three trade groups are calling for the pay raise following what's been a successful year for casinos in the enclave. Power of the Macao Gaming Association, one such union, represents around 1,800 employees who work on the gaming floors, as well as in other capacities across the resorts.

Of course, a pay increment is what they hope for,” Power of the Macao Gaming Association VP Eason Ian Iu Chong declared. “Macau's economy is at least better than a few years ago when the gaming slump hit, so we think the casino operators should raise our salary and boost workers' morale.”

Macau gross gambling revenue is on pace to win around $37.75 billion this year. That would equate to a roughly 13 percent premium on 2017, and the enclave's highest haul since the industry won $43.9 billion in 2014.

Sharing Wealth

All six of Macau's casinos operators – Sands, Wynn, MGM, Melco, Galaxy, and SJM – increased wages for the start of 2018. But union officials want more of the revenue being taken in by the companies to be distributed among their members.

“As Macau's economy is doing fine and the gaming industry here still has quite an optimistic outlook, the firms should have the conditions to award their staff a share of their earnings in forms of pay hikes and bonuses,” Macau Gaming Enterprises Staff's Association Director Choi Kam Fu told GGRAsia.

Despite GGR remaining strong, there's plenty of unease across the enclave. That's primarily due to uncertainty regarding the 2018 China-United States trade war, which President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to temporarily halt earlier this month.

Wynn CEO Matt Maddox cautioned investors during the company's third quarter call that Macau has “been quite choppy” and “sporadic.” He said a “slowdown” has arrived, and warned that earnings generated in the enclave could fall as much as 20 percent short of Wall Street expectations.

Unions Part of Game

Numerous Las Vegas casino operators only recently finalized new five-year terms with the powerful Culinary Union, an organization that represents some 50,000 workers employed as bartenders, kitchen staff, cocktail and food servers, porters and bellman, and general housekeeping.

Last May, the union threatened a strike at 34 casinos across Las Vegas. The impact of such an event would have been crippling to the Southern Nevada economy, but crisis was averted when MGM and Caesars, which accounted for 18 of the properties in question, came to new terms with the group.

Specifics have remained private, but the Culinary Union was seeking a four percent pay and benefits increase. The Associated Press reported that the average union member was making $23 an hour in total compensation, which includes healthcare, pension, and 401(k) retirement plan.

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