7/5/08

NLRB tips to UAW in Casino War skirmish

Related Casino War stories: here

No surrender: Mashantucket Nation will challenge ruling in federal court

The National Labor Relations Board released a long-awaited decision Thursday, certifying a union election held at Foxwoods Resort Casino in which a majority of table-games dealers voted in favor of representation by the United Auto Workers union. With the decision, the UAW can now request that the casino, which is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, bargain a contract on behalf of nearly 3,000 dealers.

But the tribe, as it has throughout every stage of the unionization process, again vowed Thursday to fight the union all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals, a course that would mean it will refuse to negotiate with the UAW.

Dealers continued to call on their employer Thursday to negotiate with the union and recognize the results of the election, in which 1,289 of 2,141 votes cast were in favor of unionization.

”We voted, we won, we've been certified,” said Steve Peloso, a dealer at Foxwoods, in a prepared statement issued by the UAW. “It's way past time for Foxwoods to come to the table and work with us on a fair contract.”

Bob Madore, the director of UAW Region 9A, which includes Connecticut, also urged Foxwoods to listen to workers. “There's no excuse for further delay,” he said in a statement.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal urged Foxwoods to forgo an appeal and to negotiate instead.

”This decision reaffirms indisputable law that now requires the Foxwoods Resort Casino to bargain in good faith,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “I urge the casino now to accept its legal obligation without more costly, time-consuming appeals that ultimately are doomed.”

The Mashantuckets argued prior to the vote that federal labor laws did not apply and that the NLRB did not have jurisdiction to administer the union election because the tribe is a sovereign nation with its own labor laws. The NLRB ruled against the tribe and set an election date.

Following the election, held at the end of November, the tribe filed more objections. One of the main points it argued following the election - and again Thursday - was that ballots were printed only in English despite “evidence that hundreds of the dealers were born in China and required assistance on a daily basis in reading and understanding written English.”

”Although the dealers can speak enough English to work at the tables, Foxwoods has always made translators available for workplace documents,” said Foxwoods President Barry Cregan in a prepared statement. “We are disappointed that the Board ignored those undisputed facts and disregarded the rights of Foxwoods workers.”

An administrative law judge ruled in March that the election should be certified. The tribe appealed that decision to the NLRB in Washington, which resulted in Thursday's decision.

A spokeswoman for the UAW said the union has already sent a letter to Foxwoods officials, requesting that they bargain. A tribal spokeswoman said the tribe will refuse to do so.

In the statement released Thursday, the tribe said it does intend to appeal “all aspects of the case” to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The tribe also reiterated a point it has made in the past in which it urged the UAW to consider organizing under tribal labor laws.

”We continue to believe that tribal law should apply in these matters,” said Jackson King, general counsel for the tribe in a statement. “The union could already have a contract by now if they had followed tribal law.”

(theday.com)

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