Montreal Casino | Croupiers invited with their tips to cheat

A union proposal sows unease among its members

Posted at 11:00 p.m

Tristan Peloquin

Tristan Peloquin
The press

A tentative agreement that could end the strike by 545 croupiers at Casino de Montréal has left some workers uneasy. The president of the CUPE-affiliated union is openly suggesting that its members report less to the tax authorities than they actually earn in order to compensate for a 2% pay rise deemed insufficient.

Since 1999, tips from croupiers who have been on strike since May 21 have been collected by Casino de Montréal and distributed to workers on their paychecks. Deductions for tax and pension purposes were made by employer Loto-Québec. But under a new agreement in principle, discreetly presented to traders on August 16, it is now the union’s responsibility to manage and redistribute tips.

“That means you’re going to explain [au fisc] what you want […] If you think the 2% increase [salariale négocié avec l’employeur]it’s not high enough, well, it’s up to you to double it,” President of the Syndicat des Croupiers et Croupières du Casino de Montréal, Denis Galy, told dozens of union members.

“Someone who works 2000 hours a year [va faire environ] $24,000 tip. If you decide to declare $24,000 you have the right, if you decide to declare $12,000 it is your right,” added union adviser Jean-Pierre Proulx.

Four union members contacted The press in recent days to denounce these remarks. “It’s a direct attack on our integrity. We are encouraged to commit fraud to compensate for very bad pay rises,” denounces one of them, who asked for anonymity for fear of reprisals from union leaders.

When we are hired as croupiers, we are required to give our fingerprints to Sûreté du Québec and undergo a security screening. It is unacceptable for our union to suggest that we break the law in this way.

A Casino de Montréal croupier who requested anonymity

Croupiers associated with poker tables have been doing so since 2008. According to a union member, the self-declaration process could occasionally allow them to hide “five-figure” tips from customers on big jackpot wins from tax authorities. Heartbreaking Hand progressive jackpot (badbeat), in poker, has already reached 1.67 million at Casino de Montréal, for example.

Accompanied by The press, the union representative of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Jean-Pierre Proulx, admits that such statements should never have been made during the general assembly. “Should we have said that?” Not at all. But at the same AGM, all employees were also told that it was their responsibility to declare all their tips. And if they want all the benefits associated with tipping, which accounts for around 23% plus the pension plan, it’s in their best interest to declare all of their tips,” points out Mr. Proulx.

Union President Denis Galy did not respond to our interview request.

Loto-Québec separates

Loto-Québec, which was quick to distance itself from the union leaders’ comments, reiterated that it was the union that originally asked to administer the tips “which the employer was obliged to accept under the Labor Standards Act “Says spokesman Renaud Dugas. “The company requires its tipped employees to declare their total income as required by the Income Tax Act. Reminders will be issued periodically to raise their awareness in this regard,” added Mr. Dugas.

For its part, Revenu Québec says it asks tipping employees “when it is notified of irregularities or if it believes a tax avoidance scheme is involved.”

The preliminary agreement between the union and the casino was officially accepted by members on August 16, but the union has so far refused to release the information. The croupiers must continue to strike for the striking employees of 22 branches of the SQDC until their return to work, scheduled for August 29, if they want to continue to collect income from the strike fund as if nothing happened. “1ah September, we’ll have a check for $1,150 if everyone gets things right. If someone opens the hatch, the whole gang here, you lose $1,150,” warned the union president during the general assembly.

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