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UAW says talks with Chrysler and Fiat are ongoing


UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and UAW Vice President General Holiefield, director of the union's Chrysler Department, said today that talks with Chrysler and Fiat are ongoing.

Contrary to some media reports, the union officials said, no agreement has been finalized.

"We are continuing to work toward an agreement that will be in the best interests of Chrysler workers, retirees and the communities where the company does business," said Gettelfinger.

Casino dealers launch ad campaign in Atlantic City, tell consumers everybody loses when workers are treated unfairly


The UAW Atlantic City Dealers Union has launched a multimedia advertising campaign to inform gaming consumers about the ongoing labor dispute at Atlantic City casinos.

The ads are part of a multimillion dollar effort to inform the public that casino dealers have had their hours reduced, their retirement benefits cut and their seniority stripped away while casino management either stalls progress at the bargaining table or breaks the law by refusing to negotiate.

The first round of ads, which can be viewed and heard at, will run in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Press of Atlantic City and on New Jersey and Philadelphia radio stations.

While the casinos are implementing unilateral cuts to workers' hours and benefits, the radio and newspaper ads point out that executives like Gary Loveman, CEO of Harrah's, which owns Bally's and Caesars, are paying themselves millions in salary and bonuses. Loveman collected $39.6 million in total compensation in 2008.

"We think consumers have a right to know how the casinos in Atlantic City are treating their workers,"said Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey as well as parts of Pennsylvania and New York. "I've lived in this area all my life, and I've seen the gaming industry grow up and become an important part of our community.

"A lot of jobs have been created, and many of them are good union jobs with good contracts negotiated with management by casino workers. There's no reason that dealers and slot technicians should be left out.

"When workers vote to form a union, they have a right to a seat at the table," said Ashton. "It's time for management to stop stalling and start negotiating -- and we're committed to keeping the pressure on until they meet their obligation to bargain in good faith."

Full- and part-time dealers at Caesars, as well as keno and simulcast workers, voted 4-to-1 to form their own union and become part of the UAW more than two years ago. In the months following, casino dealers, slot technicians and other casino workers at Bally's, Trump Plaza and Tropicana also voted yes for UAW representation.

More than 8,000 gaming industry workers are members of the UAW in Atlantic City, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan and Rhode Island.


New Gaming Workers Council announces bargaining, organizing and communications agenda


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Casino workers from Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Detroit and Connecticut joined together today in a new Gaming Workers Council, with a broad organizing, bargaining and communications agenda.

"We're excited," said Sharon Masino, a casino dealer at Caesars in Atlantic City and a member of the UAW/AC Dealers Union. "With everybody joining together, we'll be stronger than ever. We're going to win good contracts in Atlantic City and move on to help casino workers all over the country."

The new Gaming Workers Council will bring together the UAW, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Gaming Division, SEIU and the AFL-CIO, and will reach out to other partners to support a common agenda on behalf of workers in the casino industry.

The council's first order of business will be support for ongoing contract campaigns for casino dealers in Atlantic City. The council will also assist bargaining efforts on behalf of casino workers in Las Vegas, Indiana, Connecticut and elsewhere who have voted to form their own unions and are fighting to win first contracts; reach out to hundreds of thousands of unorganized casino workers; and communicate information about working conditions in the gaming industry to union members, the public, elected officials, casino regulators and investors.

"Our unity and the actions we are launching today will add new power to gaming workers who are courageously pursuing their dreams," said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. "We will be stepping up our efforts to ensure that these gaming workers receive the contract they deserve -- and they shouldn't have to wait another day."

Two years ago, 80 percent of casino dealers at Caesars in Atlantic City voted in favor of UAW representation. Full- and part-time dealers and slot techs at Tropicana, Trump Plaza and Bally's have also voted to form their own unions, but casino operators have either refused to bargain or stalled the negotiating process.

"This is about workers," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn. "It's about workers who have had their hours reduced, who are paying more for health care, who have lost their seniority rights, and who have been shut out at the bargaining table by casino executives who make millions of dollars a year."

Within the last two years, casino dealers at Wynn and Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas have voted for TWU by an overwhelming margin after management tried to grab their tip money and cut their pensions and other benefits, but casino executives there have also failed to meet their responsibilities to bargain fairly with workers.

"The casinos we are dealing with were once Nevada-only businesses but today are national and multinational in their reach," said TWU Executive Vice President Harry Lombardo. "If we are to best represent workers in the gaming industry, unions need to take a national, and perhaps global, approach and that is exactly what we are doing today."

"I can tell you first-hand: A good contract for workers and a successful casino go hand in hand," said Tina Phillips, a back of the house banker at MGM Grand in Detroit and chair of the MGM Grand bargaining unit of UAW Local 7777. "We negotiated our first contract in 2000, and two more since then, with good pay, a grievance procedure, and secure benefits. Our casinos in Detroit have actually increased revenue this year. Having a union contract works for us -- and I'm sure it will work in Atlantic City and Las Vegas as well."

"When we organized, our employer said the same thing the casinos are saying in Atlantic City and Las Vegas -- you'll never get a contract," said John Delmonte, a member of UAW at Foxwoods and a dealer at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, the largest casino in the United States. "Our casino had a different twist. They're tribally owned and they said that U.S. labor law didn't apply to them.

"But our members stuck together, and we have reached an agreement that we believe will respect tribal sovereignty and also protect workers' rights. Our bargaining committee is meeting with casino management and making progress. If Foxwoods can come to the table, so can the casino operators in Atlantic City and Las Vegas."

"Let there be no misunderstanding. We stand side by side with the women and men who have formed their own unions to ensure the gaming industry hears their voices and does right by them," said SEIU President Andy Stern. "We hope the power of persuasion will bring the casinos to the bargaining table, but if it takes the persuasion of power to bring these workers justice, we will be by their side."



Blue Care Network of Michigan workers overwhelmingly ratify agreement


DETROIT -- UAW members at Blue Care Network of Michigan have voted 99 percent to 1 percent in favor of a new contract.

Voting in favor of the three-year agreement took place March 3-5. The contract, which covers 579 UAW-represented Blue Care workers, includes a $2,500 ratification bonus, a 3 percent automatic progression increase in each year for workers who are below their maximum pay grade, expanded tuition benefits and increases in retirement benefits. The contract also maintains current health care benefits for 2009 and guarantees no benefit premium for the life of the contract.

"The bargaining team was successful in protecting the excellent benefits of members and maintaining health insurance for current and future retirees," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

"The contract will give our members pay increases to help them in this time of rising prices and economic uncertainty," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the Technical, Office and Professional Servicing Department. "It also recognizes the shared sacrifice of our members. They have agreed to allow salary ranges to be frozen for the life of the contract."

The contract covers Michigan members of UAW Locals 38 (Ann Arbor), 1488 (Lansing), 1781 (Southfield) and 2145 (Grand Rapids).

The new agreement expires Dec. 31, 2011.

Ford workers ratify contract modifications, changes to VEBA funding


DETROIT -- UAW members at Ford Motor Co. have ratified modifications to the UAW Ford 2007 labor agreement, as well funding changes to the independent Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) trust for retiree health care.

Fifty-nine percent of production workers and 58 percent of skilled-trades workers voted for the agreement in balloting that took place at UAW Ford locations throughout the United States.

"Once again UAW members have stepped up to make the difficult decisions necessary to deal with the reality of the current economy, the deteriorating auto industry as a whole and specifically the negative impact the economic climate is having on Ford Motor Co.," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

"We are focused on doing everything possible to rebuild a great industry and keep manufacturing jobs in the United States," Gettelfinger said. "As we have stated many times, in order to succeed, shared sacrifice will be required from all stakeholders, including executives, directors, shareholders, bondholders, dealers and suppliers."

"We are facing an unprecedented loss of sales and revenue at Ford," said UAW Vice President Bob King, who directs the union's Ford Department. "Our bargaining committee made an extraordinary effort to negotiate changes in a responsible way that will help Ford be competitive, while still protecting our active and retired members.

"The voting results show that our members are prepared to make painful sacrifices in order to be part of the solution to the problems facing Ford and the U.S. auto industry."



Tropicana dealers vote to authorize strike in Atlantic City


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- An overwhelming majority of casino dealers at Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, members of the UAW/AC Dealers union, have voted to go on strike if they are unable to reach a first contract agreement with their employer.

Ninety-seven percent of dealers voted in favor of strike authorization during balloting which took place Friday and Saturday at the UAW/AC Dealers union hall in Atlantic City.

"Today's vote means we're ready," said Ernestine Dawkins, a Tropicana dealer who is a member of the elected UAW/AC Dealers union bargaining committee at Tropicana. "We're ready to take action to win the contract we deserve."

"We know these are hard times for Tropicana and for all the casinos," said Dawkins. "We're not asking for the moon. We just want a fair agreement -- that's why we voted for our union in the first place."

Full- and part-time Tropicana dealers, as well as dual-rate employees, voted by a four-to-one margin to become part of the UAW/AC Dealers union in August 2007. There are currently more than 800 workers in the dealers bargaining unit at Tropicana.

"Waiting 18 months to get a contract, that's just unacceptable," said Al Welenc, a Tropicana dealer who is also an elected member of the union bargaining committee. "We certainly hope a strike isn't necessary, but our members sent a very clear message today: It's time for management to quit stalling and meet us halfway at the bargaining table."

The UAW/AC Dealers union has filed several unfair labor practice charges against the temporary management of Tropicana, stating that the casino has illegally disciplined casino employees, failed to bargain in good faith and illegally changed the terms of the employee health care plan without first bargaining with the union.

Increases in health insurance premiums, unilaterally determined by management, are scheduled to go into effect on March 15. A typical Tropicana casino dealer eligible for family coverage could pay as much as $1,300 per year in increased premiums.

Tropicana Resorts and Casino is currently operated under the supervision of former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein, who was appointed as conservator in December 2007, when the previous management lost its casino license. Judge Stein is compensated at the rate of $600 per hour for his services as conservator.

"It's outrageous that Judge Stein is collecting huge executive paychecks, but refusing to deal fairly with workers who are struggling to pay their bills," said Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey. "We've got good proposals on the table and we're ready to meet at any time. There's no reason whatsoever for any further delay."

The strike authorization vote passed by members of UAW/AC Dealers Tropicana, union officials said, does not include a specific deadline.

"The deadline is now. Right now," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Organizing Department. "Every day of delay in reaching a first contract is a day that workers at Tropicana are without the representation they voted for in 2007. That's wrong -- and our union is going to stand behind AC Dealers to make it right."

Tropicana dealers now stand united with the Tropicana Slot Technicians who voted by an overwhelming 91 percent for a strike authorization vote earlier this month.



UAW Ford National Council recommends ratification of contract modifications


The UAW Ford National Council today voted unanimously to recommend to the membership for ratification proposed modifications to the 2007 UAW-Ford National Agreement.

The Council, which is made up of locally-elected delegates from Ford facilities across the United States, met in Detroit Tuesday to discuss the tentative understanding reached with the company this month.

The Council also voted to complete the ratification process by March 9.

UAW and Ford reach tentative understanding on modifications to VEBA, contract


UAW President Ron Gettelfinger announced today that the union has reached an agreement with Ford Motor Co. on modifications to the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA), the union's health care trust for UAW Ford retirees. The union also reached tentative agreement with the company on other modifications to the 2007 UAW-Ford National Agreement on Feb. 15.

"We appreciate the solidarity, understanding and patience the members have demonstrated throughout the bargaining process," said Gettelfinger. "The modifications will protect jobs for UAW members by ensuring the long-term viability of the company."

"Our bargaining team stepped up to confront numerous challenges," said UAW Vice President Bob King, who heads the union's National Ford Department. "They're to be commended for their hard work under difficult circumstances."

The proposed changes will be presented to the union's local leadership at a council meeting early this week. Any changes to the contract are subject to approval of the UAW membership at Ford. In addition, proposed changes to the VEBA will require court approval.

UAW reaches tentative understandings with Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors


DETROIT -- The following statement was released today by UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

"The UAW has reached tentative understandings with Chrysler, Ford and General Motors on modifications to the 2007 national agreements. The changes will help these companies face the extraordinarily difficult economic climate in which they operate. Discussions are continuing regarding the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Associations (VEBAs) at all three companies.

"The UAW is withholding the terms of the tentative understandings pending completion of the VEBA discussions and ratification of the agreements.

"Our vice presidents and bargaining committees are to be commended for doing the best job possible for our membership under these difficult circumstances. The solidarity, support and patience of our membership, active and retired, have been instrumental in helping all of us through these challenging and unprecedented times."

UAW dealers file charges over labor law violations at Tropicana


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- The UAW announced today that casino workers at Tropicana have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the temporary management of the casino. In violation of federal labor law, the casino's temporary managers have announced substantial increases to employee health care costs before negotiating with the union.

The proposed changes include a 50 percent increase in premiums and diminished benefit levels. For dealers with families, the increased premiums will cost at least an additional $1,300 per year.

"I am concerned that many dealers will think twice before purchasing health care for themselves or their families, leaving them vulnerable for the costs of a catastrophic illness," said Ernestine Dawkins, a dealer representing UAW workers.

"The purpose of negotiations is to figure out what is fair, but both sides have to play by the rules and management can't act unilaterally," said Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey, Pennsylvania and western New York.

Federal labor law prevents an employer from making unilateral changes to terms and conditions of employment once workers have elected to form a union. Full- and part-time dealers, dual-rate workers and simulcast workers at Tropicana voted to become part of the UAW in August 2007. Slot techs at Tropicana voted in their union in September 2007.

In addition to the unilateral changes in health care, layoffs of dealers and slot techs have been announced. "Workers are very concerned with the loss of their jobs and those of their co-workers," said Al Welenc, a dealer and a UAW bargaining team member. "This is difficult to swallow in view of the compensation and benefits that are being paid to those running the casino."

Former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein, who is appointed as the conservator of the casino, is being compensated at a rate of $650 per hour plus expenses.

"No rational basis has been provided for proposed layoffs," said Ashton. "For example, the layoff of the slot technicians, despite their continued consistent workload, is irresponsible, while no significant cost savings has been demonstrated by the layoff of dealers." "This is another example of why we need the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) passed as soon as possible," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional Department. "Tropicana workers voted in their union by an overwhelming majority, but over 15 months have passed with no agreement. Instead of negotiating fairly, management has chosen to ignore current labor law, which has little consequence for employers."

The EFCA, which is supported by President Obama and a majority of both houses of Congress, allows workers to seek arbitration for first contracts if an agreement cannot be reached within four months after they elect to form a union and begin bargaining with their employer.

Including workers at Tropicana, six groups of workers at four Atlantic City casinos voted in favor of UAW representation in 2007, in addition to workers at Casino Aztar in Evansville, Ind., and Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Conn.

The UAW is one of the nation's most diverse labor unions with more than one million active and retired members, including 8,800 casino workers in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Rhode Island.