Woodbine cuts over 100 jobs
Over a hundred Ontario horse race track employees are now looking for work.
Woodbine Entertainment Group says lower revenues have forced them to pink slip 109 salaried staffers at their Woodbine & Mohawk tracks. The company has also slashed "a significant number" of hourly jobs.
The province's Slots at the Racetrack Program is set to expire at the end of March. While Woodbine Entertainment recently signed a deal for transition payments, the company says they will be much less than they pulled in through the old partnership.
Nancy, who works in Woodbine's mutuels department survived Wednesday's cut, but calls the mood at the track "horrible".
She says her co-workers have been on edge for months, through multiple rounds of job cuts, never sure if they were next to go.
This time, Nancy says it was mostly middle managers who were shown the door. People in departments like security, food & beverage, mutuels, & property services.
In a statement, company CEO Nick Eaves says "Today is a very difficult day for Woodbine Entertainment Group. The people we are saying goodbye to have helped build WEG into a world-class horse-racing and entertainment company."
Those left behind are facing possibly being re-categorized as seasonal workers or having their hours cut.
Nancy expects her hours will drop from 31/week to 28, a change she says she can survive. But she says the many single moms who make a living at Woodbine & Mohawk are "in trouble".
Nancy doesn't believe the cutting is done, pointing to the increased use of automation at Woodbine.
Read Woodbine Entertainment Group's full statement below:
"Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today announced a significant restructuring of its operating model. While the company recently announced new transitional agreements with the Ontario government and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), the revenue from those agreements will be significantly less than WEG earned through the Slots-at-Racetracks partnership. As a result, WEG has had to take steps to reduce costs and achieve efficiencies through the implementation of a new operating model.
The changes implemented today will result in the reduction of some services at Woodbine and Mohawk racetracks. The employee impact goes through the entire organization, from the executive offices to frontline employees. Including changes implemented in late 2012, WEG's total workforce will be reduced by 109 salaried positions and a significant number of hourly positions. In addition, a number of jobs will be converted to seasonal and the amount of hourly work available will be reduced.
"Today is a very difficult day for Woodbine Entertainment Group," said Nick Eaves, President and CEO of Woodbine Entertainment Group. “The people we are saying goodbye to have helped build WEG into a world-class horse racing and entertainment company. As we confront these difficult but necessary changes to our company, we remain committed to delivering a superior experience to our customers and demonstrating vital leadership to the Ontario horse racing industry to ensure its long-term sustainability."
WEG's operating model, both on-track and off-track, will be realigned to better reflect the new agreements with government and the OLG and its recently announced reduced race schedule. In addition, internal operations are being downsized or amalgamated to align with these new financial realities.
"This restructuring of our operations is absolutely necessary to ensure the viability of our business during this period of transition," said WEG Chairman Jim Lawson. "WEG and its government partners must continue to work together in order to achieve the only sustainable solution - the integration of horse racing into Ontario's overall gaming strategy, which needs to include expanded gaming, operated by WEG, at Woodbine and Mohawk racetracks.”