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Thousands march to support Atlantic City casino workers

06/21/08

Obama joins call for 'fair treatment in the workplace'

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Thousands of casino workers and supporters from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania -- and some from as far away as Maine, Indiana and Michigan -- filled the streets of Atlantic City for more than three hours today.

The spirited demonstration -- which included a strong message of support from presidential candidate Barack Obama -- was called to back union members at four of the city's biggest casinos. Dealers, slot technicians and keno and simulcast employees voted by large majorities to join the UAW starting more than a year ago, but still do not have signed labor agreements.

"What a great day!" said Chun Zhu, a casino dealer at Bally's. "For everybody working in the casinos fighting to get a contract, it means a lot to see thousands of people marching with us."

"I think the casinos really got our message," said Sharon Masino, a dealer at Caesar's. "We voted, we won -- and now it's way past time to negotiate a contract that delivers good wages and decent health care, so we can take care of ourselves and our families."

A long parade of marchers, stretching for several city blocks, streamed past the city's major casinos following a rally which featured New Jersey Gov. John Corzine, Sen. Robert Menendez and a wide range of elected officials, labor leaders and community representatives.

A highlight of the event was the message from Obama, which drew loud cheers when it was read to the marchers by Sen. Menendez.

"I encourage the employers in the gaming industry and the UAW negotiators to come together," said Obama, "and to recognize that work should be rewarded with a few basic guarantees, such as quality, affordable health care when you get sick; fair treatment in the workplace and wages that can raise a family; and a dignified and secure retirement."

"We marched with a united labor movement today, to stand up for democracy in the workplace," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. "We also had tremendous support from community leaders and elected officials from both political parties. Casino owners heard us loud and clear. Our members in Atlantic City will have the backing and the resources they need to win the contracts they deserve."

"When the casino owners of Atlantic City decided to stonewall the dealers and slot technicians who voted overwhelmingly to join the UAW," said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, "they had no idea they would be confronted with unions and workers from all over the Northeast -- workers from New York City who have their own struggle, union members from as far away as Detroit and Buffalo and Indiana."

"You can count on this: One million union members in New Jersey are going to stand with Atlantic City casino workers until all workers are covered by a union contract," said New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charlie Wowkanech.

The presidents of four international unions also joined the rally, backed by strong contingents of their respective members: Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union; Terry O'Sullivan, general president of the Laborers' International Union of North America; Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters; and Jimmy Williams, general president of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

Members of Congress attending the rally included Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, New Jersey Reps. Rob Andrews and Bill Pascrell, both Democrats, and Reps. Frank LoBiondo and Chris Smith, both Republicans from New Jersey.

Since March 2007 casino dealers, slot technicians, keno and simulcast workers have organized and won six union representation elections at four major Atlantic City casinos: Caesars, Trump Plaza, Bally's and Tropicana. Casino workers, who are members of UAW/AC Dealers, have also successfully lobbied for the first-ever comprehensive smoking ban in a casino community, and have joined with their co-workers to advocate for workers' rights on the casino floor.

The UAW, one of the nation's largest and most diverse labor unions, represents more than 8,800 casino workers in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

 

 

Bally's violates workers' rights, dealers tell N.J. Casino Commission

06/18/08

Union workers call for continued monitoring and new hearing in six months

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Dealers from Bally's in Atlantic City described critical violations of workers rights' today, including a refusal to bargain, forcing casino dealers to work without pay, abuse of seniority rights, and failure to provide adequate security and safety procedures.

The testimony from members of UAW/AC Dealers was delivered to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission during a licensing hearing in Atlantic City.

Given the serious nature of the violations -- including a decision by the National Labor Relations Board to prosecute Bally's for repeat violations of federal labor law -- workers called on the commission to monitor activities at Bally's and hold a new hearing in six months.

"I call on the commission to hold Bally's accountable for its behavior," said Ken Lorch, a dealer at Bally's. Bally's refusal -- delivered in writing -- to bargain with the union formed last year by an overwhelming majority of casino dealers, Lorch said, is a plain violation of federal labor law.

The commission, Lorch said, should "demand that Bally's cease its illegal activity immediately ... and impose appropriate sanctions if it does not comply with the law."

Casino workers, Lorch said, are subject to an unfair double standard: "If I, as a casino license holder, [was] accused of violating the law," he told commissioners, "I would stand to lose my license and my livelihood until the matter [was] resolved."

Other casino dealers, along with Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, noted several other "troubling practices" at Bally's, including:

-- Forcing workers to attend meetings and report early to their shifts without pay.

-- Breaking a promise to honor seniority rights of employees who worked at Claridge before it was acquired by Bally's -- also a violation of federal labor law.

-- Failure to account for tokes -- a substantial portion of dealers' income -- in a transparent manner.

Robert Beck, a dealer at Bally's for eight years and a member of the toke committee, said that unlike other casinos, Bally's does not report the hours worked by each dealer. "The lack of transparency," he said, "raises questions about the fairness with which tokes are distributed."

In addition, he explained, the casino does not adequately safeguard the tips that customers set aside for casino workers. As a member of the toke committee, Beck said, "I bring bags of chips through the halls of the casinos with no security officer." Ken Mondillo, a 28-year dealer at Bally's, described the unpaid time the company demands of its dealers. "Each week each dealer must attend one or two 'buzz' meetings ... mandatory meetings. These meetings start 10 minutes before shift and we are not paid for them. On every other day, dealers are required to be at our posts five minutes before our shifts. Again, we do not get paid for this time."

Noting a decline in tips at Bally's due to casino policies, inadequate health care, and other negative impacts on the quality of life of casino workers, the UAW's Ashton called on the commission to enforce the standards of the New Jersey Casino Control Act.

The law, passed when New Jersey voters approved gambling in 1976, requires the gaming industry to provide "a substantial contribution to the general welfare, health and prosperity of the state and its inhabitants." The commission, Ashton said, should "use its power and influence over Bally's Atlantic City to demand that the casino bring itself into compliance with the intent of the Casino Control Act."

More than 70 percent of dealers at Bally's voted to join the UAW in June 2007, joining a growing movement of casino workers. In the last 15 months, a majority of workers in six bargaining units at four Atlantic City properties -- Bally's, Caesars, Tropicana and Trump Plaza -- have voted to form their own unions.

Thousands of casino workers in Atlantic City have now voted to become part of the UAW, and in March union members played a major role in lobbying for and passing the first-ever comprehensive smoking ban in a casino community.

The UAW, one of the nation's largest and most diverse labor unions, represents more than 8,500 gaming employees in Detroit, Atlantic City, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Indiana.

 

 

UAW endorses Barack Obama for president

06/10/08

The UAW International Executive Board has unanimously voted to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president, the union announced today.

"After a historic primary campaign which activated and mobilized millions of voters, our union is proud to endorse Sen. Barack Obama," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. "He has inspired our country with a positive vision for a better America -- and with concrete plans to turn that vision into reality.

"From the streets of Chicago to the state legislature in Springfield, Ill., to the halls of the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama has been a voice for dignity and justice for working people. He has a strong program for a safe and secure America, which will protect our citizens and help our country prosper in a new century.

"On every issue that counts, we can count on Barack Obama to stand with our members, our families and our communities. He has pledged to rebuild America's manufacturing base and to assist the auto industry as we re-tool toward a cleaner, more modern transportation system. "Sen. Obama supports free choice in the workplace; he will fight to deliver quality, affordable health care to every American; and he understands the need to change our trade policies so that U.S. workers and U.S. companies can compete fairly in the global economy.

"As president, Barack Obama will unite our country -- and the active and retired members of the United Auto Workers will be proud to work with him to change our country for the better."

The UAW, one of America's largest and most diverse labor unions represents more than 1 million active and retired workers in automobile manufacturing, aerospace, construction equipment, health care, higher education, public service, gaming and other industries.

 

This portion of this web site is paid for by the UAW V-CAP (Voluntary Community Action Program), with voluntary contributions from union members and their families, and is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Dealers win election ruling at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino

06/03/08

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - The National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) has confirmed an election victory at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and certified the UAW as the union chosen by a majority of full- and regular part-time dealers.

"I think it's great," said Trump Plaza Dealer Doug Migliore, of the board's ruling. "We've been trying to get to the bargaining table for over a year. Now we can move forward to get a contract."

The decision, said workers and union officials, will give an added boost to a major labor rally planned for Atlantic City on June 21, when trade unionists, community leaders, and supporters from throughout the tri-state area will demonstrate for a "Fair Deal for All Atlantic City Workers."

"Management's efforts to prevent workers from exercising their legal rights have failed," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. "It's way past time for them to come to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith with the union." Gettelfinger and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney will be among those speaking at the June 21 event.

"The NLRB ruling confirms what we already knew: This was a clean campaign and a clear victory for Trump Plaza dealers," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Organizing Department.

Dealers at Trump Plaza voted 2-to-1 in favor of forming a union on March 31, 2007. But the company filed objections with the board claiming expressions of support by federal, state and local elected officials during the organizing drive had tainted the representation vote. The boards May 30 ruling upheld an earlier decision by Administrative Law Judge Robert Giannasi, who dismissed all of Trump Plaza's objections to the election and found the vote to be valid and binding.

Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey, said the board's decision has further motivated Atlantic City dealers and other casino workers. "The dealers at Trump Plaza and throughout Atlantic City are geared up and moving ahead, and we're looking forward to a terrific event on June 21.

"We've won six representation votes over the last year, every major board decision, and a first-ever smoking ban to protect the health of casino workers," said Ashton. "Casino management needs to quit the stalling and give workers and families the respect they deserve."

Since March 2007, a majority of casino dealers, dual-rate dealers and other workers at Caesars, Trump Plaza, Bally's and Tropicana in Atlantic City have voted in favor of UAW representation. Bargaining is under way at Caesars and Tropicana; the union at Bally's has just been certified by the NLRB.

The UAW, one of the nation's largest and most diverse labor unions, represents more than 8,500 gaming employees in Detroit, Atlantic City, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Indiana.

 

American Axle workers ratify new labor agreement

05/22/08

UAW workers at five American Axle Manufacturing locations have voted to ratify a new four-year labor agreement. Seventy-eight percent of workers voted in favor of ratification; 22 percent voted against.

The agreement, approved by UAW members at Detroit and Three Rivers plants in Michigan, and Buffalo, Tonawanda and Cheektowaga plants in New York, covers 3,650 workers. Voting began on May 19 and concluded on May 22.

"Our members have had to make some tough decisions for themselves and their families and have done so with careful deliberation,' said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

"This has been a difficult process for American Axle workers and there is no doubt that they stood strong through it all," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, director of the union's American Axle Manufacturing Department.

UAW members at American Axle have been on strike since Feb. 26.

 

Labor, community rally to pack Atlantic City on June 21

05/20/08

Major demonstration to support workers' fight for fair contracts

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- A united labor movement, backed by community supporters, will stage a major demonstration in downtown Atlantic City on June 21, union members announced today.

Thousands of people are expected to attend the labor and community mobilization, to back the fight by Atlantic City casino dealers, slot technicians, keno and simulcast employees and other workers for fair contracts. Speakers will include UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.

"We're excited that people will be coming from all over the country to support us," said Robert Beck, a casino dealer at Bally's. "We're winning elections, we're winning legislation -- and now we're going to have support from the entire labor movement and our community to win fair contracts."

Since March 2007, casino workers have organized and won six union representation elections at four major Atlantic City casinos: Caesars, Trump Plaza, Bally's and Tropicana.

Despite overwhelming pro-union majorities and elections that have been recognized by the National Labor Relations Board, casino operators have repeatedly stalled contract talks, and none of the workers who voted for union representation has a signed contract -- yet.

"The story today is we are winning in Atlantic City, and we are going to keep winning," said Ernestine Dawkins, a casino dealer at Tropicana. "Our election victories were great -- and it was amazing that when we came together as a union we were able to win a smoking ban (in April 2008) that people had been talking about for years.

"Now our focus is on winning good contracts and having a huge rally in the streets of Atlantic City is going to be a major boost for all of us."

"Atlantic City is a union town, and the casino industry here is a union industry," said Charlie Wowkanech, president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO. "Inside every Atlantic City casino, the waiters, the bartenders, the drivers, the maintenance staff, the housekeeping staff -- they all have a union and the protection of a union contract.

"If dealers and slot techs and other workers want a contract, they have the same right. We're going to make sure the casino operators hear that message loud and clear on June 21."

"We're very proud that Atlantic City casino dealers chose to be part of the UAW," said Kevin Donovan, assistant director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey. "They voted to form their own unions -- and in America, when all the votes are counted, the results have to mean something. Here in Atlantic City that means these workers have the right to negotiate a contract.

"We're going to be here on June 21 to show our strength and our pride and to show the casino operators that it's long past time to come to the table and negotiate fair labor agreements."

The June 21 rally will begin at noon. For more information, contact the UAW AC/Dealers at (609) 340-0006.

 

 

UAW reached tentative agreement with American Axle

05/16/08

UAW reached tentative agreement with American Axle.

University employees announce joint union effort

05/16/08

Employees at University of New Hampshire organize with backing of AFSCME and UAW

DURHAM, N.H. -- Today, employees at the University of New Hampshire announced an historic public service organizing campaign with two unions, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the UAW. The unions will join in a coordinated effort to assist UNH workers who want to form their own local unions.

"This is great news for all UNH employees," said Kelly Hinton, a financial support specialist for eight years at UNH. "We feel that the two unions working together will be a good fit for the university along side of the faculty union. Working together with AFSCME and the UAW means we are united and stronger."

"This is a terrific opportunity for us to have a real, effective voice on the job," said Lonn Sattler, a veterans coordinator who has worked at UNH for 26 years. "With two great unions working together, we can make UNH a better place to work."

UNH workers, who are public employees of the state of New Hampshire, have the right to organize their own unions and bargain with their employers when a majority of workers sign union authorization cards, under terms of labor law reform passed by the New Hampshire state legislature in 2007. The two unions have agreed to coordinate organizing efforts, and to support the negotiating teams of all UNH workers who are successful in forming their own local unions and bargaining units.

Clerical, technical, skilled trades, administrative employees as well as certain supervisory employees, will be eligible to become part of AFSCME. Service and professional staff, adjunct faculty members as well as certain supervisory employees will be eligible to become part of the UAW.

"Our goal is to help workers who want to form their own unions," said Bob Madore, director of UAW Region 9A, which includes New Hampshire and other New England states. "By combining resources so we can work with AFSCME, we can be even more effective."

"This is the right approach for UNH workers and for our two unions," said Alva Arellano, New England director of organizing for AFSCME. "AFSCME and the UAW are joining together and we're going to help UNH workers join together so they can have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives and improve the important public services they provide."

Combined, AFSCME and UAW represent over 2.6 million members and retirees nationwide, including over 250,000 workers at 300 universities across the United States.

 

 

Atlantic City Mayor signs casino smoking ban into law at UAW hall

04/30/08

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Today at the UAW union hall, Mayor Scott Evans signed into law the first-ever smoking ban for a casino town. Evans was joined by local labor leaders and UAW casino workers who fought for the measure to reduce their exposure to secondhand smoke at work.

The smoking ban will guarantee all Atlantic City casino gaming floors are 100 percent smoke-free, and will go into effect Oct. 15. It was sponsored by Councilman Bruce Ward and supported by the UAW, the New Jersey Group Against Smoking Pollution (NJ-GASP), the American Cancer Society and other public health organizations.

"This is a great victory for casino workers. Their grassroots organizing really got the ball rolling on a long-standing problem in the casinos of Atlantic City," said Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey. "We're glad the City Council and the mayor listened to workers and took the necessary action."

"CEOs who don't have to worry about access to affordable health care opposed the smoking ban in casinos all along," said Al Welenc, a casino dealer at the Tropicana. "I'm just relieved that when UAW members teamed up with public health advocates we were able to make a positive change."

"Now that casino workers have come together to solve a major health and safety problem at work through the smoking ban, the next step for these workers will be to win fair contracts with their employers," said New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech.

After winning union representation elections at four major casino properties in Atlantic City during the past year, casino workers in Atlantic City are working to negotiate first contract agreements at Caesars, Bally's, Tropicana and Trump Plaza. Progress has been stalled by management delaying tactics, including several cases in which casino executives filed unsuccessful objections to election results.

"We voted. The results are in," said Welenc. "We've got huge majorities in favor of forming our own unions. It's long past time for the casinos to meet their responsibilities and bargain with us in good faith so we can reach agreements that help our members and help the industry."

Casino workers win election ruling at Bally's; Atlantic City community leaders support campaign to win fair contracts

04/17/08

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- A rally by community leaders to support collective bargaining rights for dealers and other casino workers turned into an impromptu victory celebration Wednesday when the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) confirmed a June 2007 election victory at Bally's, and certified the UAW as the union chosen by full- and part-time dealers, keno and simulcast workers.

"This is great news!" said Chun Zhu, a dealer at Bally's. "We won our election by more than 2-to-1 nearly a year ago. We knew all along it was a fair vote, with a huge majority in favor of forming our own union."

In the April 11 ruling released Wednesday, the NRLB in Washington upheld the Oct. 18, 2007, decision of Administrative Law Judge David Goldman, who dismissed all of Bally's objections to the election and found the vote to be valid and binding.

"The NLRB did the right thing by recognizing our majority," said Edda Osis, a simulcast writer at Bally's. "It's long past time for Bally's to do the right thing. They've lost their attempt to delay our election, and it's time to come together so everyone can win at the bargaining table."

"This is another major win for casino workers," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. "Dealers and all the other casino workers in Atlantic City who have chosen UAW representation have the full support of our entire union as they work to win their first contract agreements."

The NLRB announcement was well-received during a bipartisan press conference at City Hall, where Democratic and Republican elected officials, interfaith leaders and community activists had gathered to support casino workers across Atlantic City who have won UAW union representation elections and are working to bargain their first contracts.

Atlantic City Mayor Scott Evans; State Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Northfield; Assemblyman John F. Amodeo, R-Northfield; Rev. Reginald Floyd, pastor of Christ Worship Center Worldwide; Charles Wowkanech, president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, and Roy Foster, president of the Atlantic and Cape May Counties Central Labor Council, demonstrated their support for workers by signing a petition in favor of fair collective bargaining.

Since March 2007, a majority of casino dealers, dual-rate dealers and other workers at Caesars, Tropicana, Bally's and Trump Plaza in Atlantic City have voted in favor of UAW representation. Bargaining is under way at Caesars and Tropicana; the union at Bally's has just been certified and Trump Plaza is still trying to delay certification before the NLRB.

"Atlantic City is a union town," said Mayor Evans. "Most workers in our gaming industry are members of labor unions. This has been good for Atlantic City. We are a better place to live when our citizens work under contracts -- with good wages and good benefits."

"Everybody is on the same page," said Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey. "Community leaders, the Labor Relations Board and, most important, casino workers who want a chance to improve their workplaces. It's time for casino operators to get the message, get to the bargaining table, and work with us to negotiate good agreements that can help our members and help this industry."

"This victory is important for all casino workers in Atlantic City," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Organizing Department. "We're on strong legal ground, and our community support is solid. When a majority of workers speaks loud and clear in favor of forming their own union, there's only one acceptable result: fair bargaining for a fair contract."

The UAW, one of the nation's largest and most diverse labor unions, represents more than 8,500 gaming employees in Detroit, Atlantic City, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Indiana.