Animosity growing on casino worker picket lines in Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Animosity growing on casino worker picket lines in Kamloops

Workers have been picketing outside of Cascades Casino in Kamloops since Friday, June 29. Some individuals have turned to social to report incidents of violence between picketers and drivers attempting to cross picket lines.


KAMLOOPS - While it appears the picket lines at Cascades Casino are becoming testy, early reports on social media of a violent incident may have been overblown.

Social media users have taken sides and some have accused picketers of purposely blocking vehicles from entering the casino, causing some tension. A public post published on Friday, July 6 to a Kamloops Facebook group reported that a Cascades Casino worker had his foot run over by a driver attempting to cross the picket line. The post has since been deleted after attracting some attention but the incident could not be independently verified.

Kamloops RCMP says things happened a bit differently.

Workers from four casinos in the Thompson-Okanagan are on strike after mediated talks between Gateway Casinos and the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union broke down last week. Workers have been on strike for less than two weeks, but complaints of motorists driving aggressively around picketers in Kamloops have made their way to social media.

"Huge rant to the assholes that are blowing through a legal picket line and injuring our members," the Facebook post said. "One of my co-workers had his foot run over and is pressing charges."

The original poster would not confirm the accuracy of her post either. 

Kamloops RCMP Cpl. Jodi Shelkie says they have responded to two separate incidents on July 4 and July 8 when an individual reported getting bumped in the shins by a vehicle while picketing at one of the entrances of the casino.

"He had no injuries in either situation and through investigation, we couldn't determine if he was actually hit or not," Shelkie says. "If someone had their foot run over, they haven't reported it to police."

The union's president, Stephanie Smith, joined workers picketing in Kamloops from July 8 to July 9. Smith says shortly after she arrived to join the night crew that was picketing, a worker was hit by a vehicle on July 8.

"Unfortunately one of our picketers on the other side of the casino from where we actually were, did have an encounter with a car," Smith says. "He was hit by the patron who rushed the line and we reported that to the RCMP."

Smith says she did not witness anything herself but was told the same individual had been bumped by a vehicle previously. Smith advised the worker to go to the hospital to be thoroughly checked, where he was told he was OK. 

"We want to reinforce (to our picketers) they need to take care," she says. " We've been asking the public to respect our picket lines, don't cross them."

A different post made to Facebook complained of workers picketing of "barely giving enough space" to his car while he tried to cross the picket line at the casino.

"Trying to take a night out with my wife and you stand there with a fucking megaphone," the post says. "Maybe that's why buddy's foot got run over."

Smith says workers who are picketing at the casino's driveways are entitled to slow down vehicles to give people information about the strike but cannot block a motorist from entering.

"Our picketers know that they have a right to cross the driveway as they are in motion," she says. "We are not blockading cars from entering but we are entitled to interact with (cars)."

Smith says the strike will continue until Gateway Casinos and the worker's union reach an agreement on fair wages. Smith will spend this week in mediation meetings with the employer.

"We are optimistic that we will end up with a deal that our members can ratify," she says. "Right now the ball is in the employer's court and we believe that industry standards for members in the Thompson-Okanagan should be what members are paid."

Smith says she hopes motorists in the future will respect workers striking at the casino's entrances in Kamloops.

"If you are going to cross the (picket) line then please be aware that these are people," she says. "They would like to return to work uninjured."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

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