4/16/08

Mashantucket Nation appeals UAW election

As promised, attorneys representing Foxwoods Resort Casino have appealed a judge's decision issued in early March recommending certification of a vote by dealers in favor of union representation. The 33-page appeal was filed with the National Labor Relations Board in Washington of March 25. Table game and poker dealers voted 1,289 - 852 in favor of union representation by the United AutoWorkers Nov. 24, 2007.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns and operates Foxwoods, had filed several objections relating to the election, which questioned why ballots were not translated into traditional and simplified Chinese and also raised concerns about the conduct of union officials.

Administrative Law Judge Raymond Green discounted each of the objections filed by the tribe in his decision, which was issued March 14.

While those objections are still prominent in this appeal, the tribe is again raising the issue of jurisdiction and whether the NLRB has jurisdiction over a sovereign nation. The tribe also disputes the applicability of the National Labor Relations Act.

In a footnote on the first page of the appeal, attorneys for the MPTN state that the tribe "has participated in these proceedings only to challenge the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board over the [Mashantucket Pequot] Gaming Enterprise."

The appeal also alleges that the NLRB did not conduct a fair election by not providing translated ballots, despite a request by the tribe.

The appeal states that the election should be overturned because union officials, or members of the employee organizing committee, were polling dealers about how they voted.

The attorneys argue in the brief that according to case law "keeping a list of employees who have voted ... has been found to interfere with an election and is grounds for setting aside the election when it can be shown or inferred from the circumstances that the employees knew that their names were being recorded."

The attorneys argued that because the union presented no evidence to dispute the actions, the board "should draw an adverse inference against the union and accept the evidence as true."

The UAW did not comment on the filing of the appeal.

If the labor board in Washington agrees with Green's decision, the election will be certified, and under the NLRA, Foxwoods will have an obligation to bargain collectively with the union.

If Foxwoods fails to bargain, the UAW can file an unfair labor practices complaint with the regional NLRB.

The case would then go to a hearing with an administrative law judge, who would most likely send the case to NLRB headquarters, which would most likely issue an order to bargain.

Then at that point, the tribe could file a petition of the court of appeals.

When Green's decision was made public, an attorney representing the tribe vowed to fight on, stating that the appeals process could very well lead the tribe into federal court.

It is a "lengthy path," said Richard Hankins, an attorney representing the tribe. "But it appears to be the path that we're on."

(indiancountry.com)

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