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Casino Aztar dealers and other gaming employees win certification


EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The National Labor Relations Board has certified the results of a vote by Casino Aztar dealers and other gaming employees. Certification of the election, in which workers voted 106 to 59 to form a union, means they have the right to begin bargaining with support from their new union, the UAW.

Dealers’ concerns include health benefits, treatment on the job, pay and health and safety.

Casino Aztar’s owner, Columbia Sussex Corp., did not file objections to the election and is now legally obligated to bargain with workers over terms and conditions of employment.

“We’re looking forward to electing our bargaining committee and sitting down across the table form Columbia Sussex to negotiate a fair contract,” said Salli Rachley, a Casino Aztar employee for 12 years.

“Everyone is very excited about the election results,” said Patty Vanderkooy, a dual-rate dealer. “We’re united and ready to bargain.”

“The next step is for the employer to come to the bargaining table,” said William Mello, professor of labor studies at Indiana University, Kokomo. “If an employer refuses to bargain after an election has been certified, they are breaking the law.”

The UAW represents more than 8,000 gaming workers in Michigan, Indiana, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey.


UAW Local 6000 ratifies new pact with state of Michigan


LANSING, Mich. – UAW Local 6000 members have voted 75 percent to 25 percent in favor of a new contract with the state of Michigan.

“Our members recognize that we negotiated a solid contract during a very tough time for our state,” said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Department. “The bargaining committee’s priorities were to maintain excellent health care for UAW families and preserve existing contract language. With the contract ratified, we can all move forward, offering the highest level of service to Michigan government and its residents.”

The new three-year agreement calls for a 1 percent base pay increase in 2009 and a 3 percent increase in October 2010.

It also includes enhanced grievance procedures and new health and safety guidelines.

UAW Local 6000 represents 17,000 state of Michigan employees in human services and administrative support, including workers in every department of state government and every county of the state.

Casino dealers at Foxwoods vote YES in favor of union representation


LEDYARD, Conn. -- Casino dealers at Foxwoods, the largest private employer in the state of Connecticut, have voted YES in favor of union representation. The vote was 60 percent in favor and 40 per cent against.

“We are elated. Today, we voted to form our union,” said Billy Shea, a dealer at Foxwoods since it opened. “As part of the UAW, we look forward to sitting down with management to negotiate a fair contract that secures our future, and the future of our casino.”

The election was held from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24. The ballots were counted at the close of voting, and the results announced at 2 a.m. today.

“Casino dealers at Foxwoods came together because we deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Sherry Lee, a nine-year table games dealer. “Our success is an example of what can be accomplished when people work together. Casino dealers sent a clear message today: We are united, regardless of race, ethnicity or language. We stayed strong and voted YES for a say in our working conditions."

“We’ve reached a decision: A majority believes we need a union to improve our workplace,” said Jacqueline Little, a 15-year poker dealer. “Now, we all have a chance to come together as part of one strong organization. Everyone’s input is important in bargaining a strong contract.” “We’re ready to work with management to make Foxwoods better,” said Mary Johnson, a 14-year table games dealer. “We want good, secure jobs and a good union contract – just like workers have in other casinos.”

“We’re delighted to welcome the Foxwoods workers into the UAW. They’ve done a great job planning and carrying out a successful campaign to form their own union,” said Robert Madore, director of UAW Region 9A, which includes Connecticut and other New England states, as well as New York City and Puerto Rico. “The next step in building democracy in the workplace will be for Foxwoods workers to elect a bargaining committee for contract negotiations.”

The new bargaining unit will include about 2,600 dealers and dual-rate dealers at Foxwoods.

“We’re proud to assist casino workers at Foxwoods, who are joining a national movement for workplace justice,” said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union’s Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Organizing Department. “Dealers all over the country are joining together to improve their jobs -- and the industry as a whole is growing at the same time.”

The casino dealers at Foxwoods join thousands of gaming employees who are already UAW members in Detroit, Atlantic City, N.J., Newport, R.I., and Evansville, Ind. Within the past month, UAW members in Detroit have ratified new contracts at the city’s three casinos, which are investing over $1 billion in new and renovated facilities.



NLRB rules against Foxwood casino


HARTFORD – The National Labor Relations Board in Washington ruled today to reject Foxwoods’ appeal of the NLRB’s jurisdiction to order a union election and rejected the casino’s motion to stay the election.

As a result of the ruling the votes will be counted immediately following the close of voting, Sat., Nov. 24, at 11 p.m. The tally will be announced immediately following the count, which could take several hours.

“We have won every legal decision in this case,” said Mary Johnson, a long-time table games dealer. “Foxwoods has had a chance to make things right. Now it’s our turn. Winning our union election, we will be able to hold Foxwoods accountable and make this a better place to work.”

The union vote will be conducted by NLRB from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. in the Sunset Ballroom at Foxwoods. All dealers and dual\-rate dealers employed as of the Oct. 20, 2007 payroll period are eligible to vote, including part-time, casual and full-time dealers.

“We are voting yes for fair wages, better benefits and respect on the job,” said Sherry Lee, a 9- year dealer. “Workers at Foxwoods speak many different languages, but we all know how to say ‘UNION YES’.”


Former UAW Vice President Irving Bluestone dies of heart failure


Former UAW Vice President Irving Bluestone died of heart failure on Nov. 17 at his home in Brookline, Mass. He was 90.

“Irving Bluestone will be deeply missed by his brothers and sisters in the labor movement, as well as by civil rights leaders, health care activists, members of the academic community and progressives everywhere,” UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said. “He was a passionate fighter for working men and women everywhere, and his contributions to the cause of social justice will be remembered for many years to come.”

After graduating from City College of New York in 1937, Bluestone headed for Switzerland to do a year of postgraduate work at the University of Bern, hoping to become a teacher.

His 1938 trip to Europe was a turning point in his life. He was in Vienna when Hitler’s troops seized the country. A Jew, he immediately fled Austria and returned home to the United States. At that point, he changed his career plans, deciding to become a unionist because it was the “best antidote to fascism,” his daughter, Maura Bluestone, said.

Wanting to become a UAW member, Bluestone pursued a job at General Motors’ Hyatt Ball Bearing Division plant in Harrison, N.J., as a grinder operator and repairman.

He quickly became a union activist with UAW Local 511, serving as editor of the local union newspaper and chairman of the education and political action committees before being elected committeeman and then shop chair.

In 1945 UAW President Walter Reuther appointed Bluestone to the staff of Region 9A, where he serviced UAW local unions from Philadelphia to Massachusetts. He was named in 1947 to the General Motors Department staff where he coordinated the umpire section and performed general field service work.

In 1955 he was named as administrative assistant to Vice President Leonard Woodcock, director of the General Motors Department. From 1955 to 1961, Bluestone was involved in negotiations and contract administration with GM and aerospace companies.

Bluestone became Reuther’s administrative assistant in 1961 until he was named director of the General Motors Department in 1970. He replaced Woodcock who had become UAW president after Reuther’s death in 1970.

Bluestone was elected vice president at the 1972 UAW Constitutional Convention. He served in that position until his retirement in 1980.

That same year he realized an early dream when, at age 64, he joined the faculty of Wayne State University in Detroit as a professor of labor studies.

Besides participating in every set of GM contract negotiations from 1948 until 1980, Bluestone was heavily involved in community, state and national activities, and was an active member in the National Committee for Full Employment, Work in America Institute, NAACP, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Michigan Quality of Work Life Council, Health Care Institute and National Trade Union Council for Human Rights.

“He was very much concerned about the union as a social movement,” said Alan Reuther, director of the UAW’s Legislative, Governmental and International Affairs Department in Washington, D.C.

Bluestone was a strong advocate for strategic partnerships between labor and management in the 1970s when he was a UAW vice president. He believed that employee input in strategic decisions can contribute to the success of the corporation. He also saw strategic partnerships as advancing the cause of economic democracy.

The UAW shares the loss of Brother Irving Bluestone and extends its profound sympathy to his family and friends.

Workers at Casino Aztar vote for union representation


EVANSVILLE, Ind. – A strong majority of workers at Casino Aztar voted for union representation. In an election on Oct. 27, full-time and regular part-time dealers, as well as dual-rate supervisors and full floor supervisors, voted 106 to 59 to become part of the UAW. The ballot count had been delayed until the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C., rejected an appeal by Casino Aztar’s management company, Columbia Sussex Corp., to set aside the election.

“The election victory is great news for Casino Aztar dealers and all workers in the gaming industry,” said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who heads organizing for the union’s Technical, Office and Professional Department. “The courage and determination of the workers in Evansville demonstrate why the growing national movement of casino workers to join unions has been so successful.”

Dealers’ concerns include pay, health benefits, treatment on the job, and health and safety.

“We welcome the Casino Aztar workers into the UAW family,” said Maurice “Mo” Davison, who directs UAW Region 3, which includes Indiana and Kentucky. “They are fighting a battle that we know well – to have a real say about their wages, benefits and working conditions. We know from experience that no matter what management says during an election, workers are better off when they’re part of a union and can negotiate on an equal footing with their employer. We look forward to a positive bargaining relationship with Columbia Sussex.”

The victory at Casino Aztar comes as a wave of dealers at casinos around the country are joining unions. Thousands of dealers in Atlantic City have voted to join the UAW in NLRB elections this year as part of a citywide organizing campaign. In Connecticut, dealers and other gaming employees at Foxwoods Casino, the largest casino in the United States, will vote Saturday.

Columbia Sussex Corp., which owns Casino Aztar, also owns the Tropicana in Atlantic City, N.J., where more than 80 percent of dealers and dual-rate dealers voted for UAW representation on Aug. 26.

The UAW represents more than 6,000 gaming workers in Michigan, Rhode Island and New Jersey.


Workers at Greektown Casino Hotel have ratified a new four-year labor agreement


DETROIT -- Workers at Greektown Casino Hotel have ratified a new four-year labor agreement, with 85 percent of workers voting in favor of the contact. Greektown workers voted Thursday in Detroit to approve the agreement; it takes immediate effect upon ratification.

Similar to contracts ratified and implemented last month at MGM Grand Casino Hotel and Motor City Casino Hotel, the new agreement includes a 4 percent pay increase in each year of the agreement, enhanced 401(k) contributions, and preservation of quality health care.

The Greektown agreement also includes a total of $1,200 for each worker in lump-sum bonuses.

As in the previous two agreements, workers hired in Greektown’s newly expanded permanent gaming facility and hotel will have the right to union representation and will be covered by terms of the new agreement.

Workers at all three Detroit casinos have now ratified new labor contracts, negotiated by bargaining committees elected by the casino workforce. Detroit casino workers are part of the Detroit Casino Council, which includes the UAW, UNITE-HERE, the Operating Engineers, the Teamsters union and, at Greektown only, the Carpenters Union. The new labor pacts will expire in October, 2011.

“This is great news for our members, for our city and for the gaming industry,” said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the UAW Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Department. “Members of the bargaining committees at all three casinos, who were elected by their co-workers, did a great job in negotiating these agreements.”

“This is the right formula for economic growth for our community,” said Settles. “The casinos are investing over $1 billion in the city of Detroit, while at the same time negotiating labor agreements which provide good-paying jobs with secure benefits and strong protections for workers’ rights.”


UAW members have voted to ratify a new collective-bargaining agreement with Ford Motor Co.


DETROIT -- UAW members have voted to ratify a new collective-bargaining agreement with Ford Motor Co. Production workers voted 81 percent in favor of the four-year pact, and 71 percent of skilled-trades workers approved the contract. Overall, 79 percent of UAW Ford members voted in favor of the contract.

The union reached a tentative agreement with Ford on Nov. 3.

“Our bargaining team negotiated a contract that protects wages, benefits and seniority for our active members and provides income and health care security for our retired members,” UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said. “We stood our ground in the face of some rather big asks by the company and came away with a creative agreement that addresses the concerns of our members, and also gives the company the opportunity to move forward.

"Now it’s up to Ford to successfully bring to market the top-quality vehicles our members are building in UAW Ford factories.”

“We obtained solid commitments from the company to keep plants open and to invest in UAW members and union-made products here in the United States,” said UAW Vice President Bob King, who heads the union’s National Ford Department. “That means job security for our members, which was a top priority for us.”

The new contract covers about 54,000 active workers at Ford and more than 94,000 Ford retirees and 28,000 surviving spouses. It will expire Sept. 14, 2011.




Detroit Casino Council and Greektown Casino reach a tentative agreement on a new contract


DETROIT - The Detroit Casino Council and Greektown Casino yesterday reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.

“The bargaining committee has delivered a contract that will benefit Greektown workers, the casino and the community," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs servicing operations for the union’s Technical, Office and Professionals Department. "This agreement recognizes the value and contributions of these hard-working service workers and gives them a solid contract as the casino prepares to expand.”

Details of the agreement will be provided to members of the DCC for their approval. Voting will be conducted Thursday. The DCC is composed of the UAW, UNITE-HERE, Teamsters, Operating Engineers and Carpenters unions, and represents about 1,500 workers at Greektown.


NLRB schedules union election for Foxwoods casino dealers


HARTFORD – The NLRB scheduled the union election for Foxwoods casino dealers for Saturday, Nov. 24. Foxwoods casino dealers reacted positively that their election will be held in accordance with federal labor laws.

“The casino dealers are so excited to move forward,” said Mary Johnson, a 14-year table games dealer at Foxwoods. “A super-majority of us signed cards, and now we’ll have the opportunity to cast our ballots to vote yes for our union.”

“ No matter what language we speak, we know how to say ‘union yes’,” said Sherry Lee, a table games dealer who has worked at Foxwoods for nine years.

“Foxwoods employs people from all over the globe. We come from many different cultures and speak many different languages. But when it comes to the union, we are standing together,” Lee continued.

“We work hard, and we ought to be able to support our families. We need a union contract to guarantee that we will be treated right.”

“Our casino is very successful, but our benefits have been cut and our wages have not kept pace with inflation” said Billy Shea, a dual-rate dealer who has worked at Foxwoods since the day it opened. “Our day has come. We’re winning our election, and we’re not stopping until we get a fair contract.”

“Foxwoods casino dealers have a home with the UAW,” said Bob Madore, director of UAW Region 9A. “They will be joining gaming employees across the country who are standing together for a voice on the job – from our members at Newport Grand in Rhode Island to Detroit and Atlantic City.”

In a separate ruling last week, the NLRB addressed labor law violations dating back to July. Foxwoods management was charged with unlawful conduct including intimidation, interrogation, surveillance, harassment, threats of reprisals, and unlawful discipline.

Jacqueline Little, a fifteen year employee and the first to speak publicly to the media about the union campaign, was among those illegally disciplined.

“We are glad to be vindicated by this ruling,” said Jacqueline Little, a poker dealer. “Management’s conduct just reinforces for us that only a union contract will change things at Foxwoods.”

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The UAW Region 9A includes the northeast, eastern New York state, and Puerto Rico. Region 9A has a very diverse membership, including gaming employees, marine draftsmen, manufacturing workers, attorneys, workers at auto dealerships, child care teachers, academic workers and others.