NORWICH, Conn. -- Having a first-ever union contract means more than a pay raise and improved health and safety and job security for Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand casino workers.
It also means members of UAW Local 2121 are now true partners in the future success of the largest U.S. gaming complex. On Jan. 29, casino workers, on a 1,053-355 vote, approved a two-year contract that establishes a model for the Native American-owned gaming industry.
It's all due to the persistence of c
UAW Local 2121 member Kim Jubrey casts her vote on the contract with Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise, which owns Foxwoods Resort Casino. The contract was ratified by a 3-to-1 ratio. Photo by Scott Sommer.
"We worked hard to get dealers a fair contract," said Yan Mei Shi, a six-year veteran dealer and member of the bargaining committee. "Dealers deserve job stability and fair treatment on the job, and this agreement is a great advancement."
In the contract reached with the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise, workers will receive a 12 percent wage increase over two years, a more equitable distribution of tokes (tips) that is designed to lead to significant increases for the overwhelming majority of dealers, protections from second-hand smoke –- including a unique smoke-free 24-table section, among other improved benefits.
Foxwoods dealers asked the UAW for help three years ago. The road to this contract was difficult, but the UAW bargaining committee was up to the challenge.
"These workers stuck together for over three years, and it shows if you have the determination to win, it can happen, and workers united can succeed," said Bob Madore, director of UAW Region 9A, where Foxwoods is located. "The bargaining committee and dealers should be applauded for their perseverance in accomplishing a collective bargaining agreement under tribal law. This is a historic achievement.
"We will work wholeheartedly to let people know that this is a great place to come for a union-friendly, worker-friendly gaming experience," Madore added.
The agreement stops the erosion of full-time jobs with benefits by reducing the number of casual dealers, who will be promoted to regular part-time jobs with benefits. Workers also won a real and fair grievance procedure, and programs to reduce repetitive stress and a major extension of medical leave.
"We put a stop to the erosion of full-time jobs and fought to make sure more people have jobs with benefits," added Denise Gladue, a 15-year dealer. "There are a lot of safety issues like arm and shoulder injuries from dealing. This contract is the first step to address that and many other issues."
The UAW represents gaming employees at four casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., and three in Detroit, and has made a commitment to help casino workers everywhere to improve conditions at their workplaces.
"Dealers across the country have been watching this process, and we are confident that this agreement will serve as an inspiration to them," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Department.
"We look forward to working with the dealers at Foxwoods and MGM and dealers at other tribal casinos interested in improving their working conditions through a collective voice on the job."