ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Members of the UAW bargaining team at Tropicana have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the temporary management of the casino, charging a failure to bargain in good faith.
"We won our representation election by 80 percent to 20 percent," said Al Welenc, a UAW bargaining team member. "That's a strong mandate for a strong contract -- but Judge Stein has said flat out that he won't reach an agreement with us."
Former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein was appointed by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission as conservator of the Tropicana casino in December 2007, when the previous management lost its operating license.
In January 2008 Judge Stein told UAW representatives that he would engage in bargaining but would not reach an agreement because he would not bind a prospective purchaser. Since then he has engaged in surface bargaining during negotiations, has refused to bargain over disciplinary issues and has unilaterally changed terms and conditions of employment.
"Even if he's only running the casino for a limited time, Judge Stein of all people should understand he has an obligation to follow the law," said Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and western New York. "Federal labor law is very clear: If you come to the table and state up front you have no intent to reach an agreement, that's bargaining in bad faith -- and that's illegal."
"Our goal is to reach a fair agreement at Tropicana, and our bargaining team is prepared to make this process work," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional Department. "Casino workers expect and deserve that whoever is managing the casino will recognize our rights and comply with the law."
Full- and part-time dealers, dual rate workers and simulcast workers at Tropicana voted to become part of the UAW on Aug. 25, 2007. In all, 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 Casino in Ledyard, Conn.
On June 21 thousands of casino workers, UAW members, trade unionists, political and religious leaders, as well as community supporters marched in Atlantic City to support the UAW campaign for fair contracts.
The UAW is one of the nation's largest and most diverse labor unions with more than one million active and retired members, including more than 8,800 casino workers in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Rhode Island.