For Terri and Jason Demers picketing is a family affair
Terri Demers isn’t even an employee of ABS Casinos. But her husband is. She started hanging around the picket line, and couldn’t stop. The following is her story.
The casino is my husband Jason’s part time job. He works during the days as an arbitrator and mediator. He works at the casino to provide benefits for our children and because he loves the work and people there.
At the beginning of this strike Jason’s parents became ill. He needed to leave to attend to them. I could not go with him as we have nine children, other jobs and responsibilities here. Not knowing what else to do, I thought I could support him back here by picketing for him, as he was upset to have to leave right as it was starting.
I knew none of the picketers but they all welcomed me. As I walked the line with them I got to know them and build some friendships with them. I learned of their families and why they were there. I began to see them, as their employer has never taken the time to.
I became proud to stand by them in their fight for equality and fair wages. I support their decision to strike and understand it completely.
I am amazed by the fact that a $100 million-dollar corporation offers many of the working poor, single moms and those just trying to get by, a $0.07 raise. I think this is insulting, degrading, and a complete lack of respect for hard working employees.
Walking the picket line was a bit of an eye-opener. It’s not a pretty sight. Drunk gamblers, especially the losers, and cars are a bad mix. At first I was amazed that picketers were putting themselves in such danger every night. I know one picketer, Nelson, who’s been hit four times, he’s a walking target, but he keeps coming back. Once, a guy got out of his car, grabbed one of Nelson’s gloves off his hand, and slapped Nelson with his own glove.
One slot junkie crossed the line to gamble. She parked near the picket line and went into the casino. Her car started smoking, we called security, we called the fire department, but apparently the woman wouldn’t come out – she didn’t want to give up her slot machine even though her car was, by this point, on fire. This is the sort of people we face on the line every day.
There are so many times I’ve told myself that it isn’t worth it. I have a family I have to go home to. Why am I risking my life on this picket line? I ask myself this, but I keep going back to the line, every night. Some things are too important to let go of.
Jason is back now, but I am still walking the picket line because I believe in their cause. They deserve better!
As parents of nine we’ve tried to teach our children strong values: fighting is a last resort, but you should always stand up for yourselves and what you believe in.
This was our last option. In standing up we show our strength. The picketers have shown my family courage, determination, and dedication to making their work place, community and families better. These are lessons every parent wants their kids to learn.
We often say, “no one said it would be easy, but it will be worth it.”
Keep up the good fight!
Terri, Jason Demers and family
For more information about the strike at ABS Casino Calgary, go to: www.alberta.cupe.ca/casino.htm