Judge finds no misconduct in Foxwoods labor union vote

By Dave Collins
Hartford, Connecticut (AP) 3-08

A federal judge has upheld a vote by Foxwoods Resort Casino dealers to unionize, ruling that there was no misconduct by the United Auto Workers before the election in November.

Administrative Law Judge Raymond P. Green concluded that Foxwoods did not prove union organizers intimidated casino workers to get them to vote in favor of joining the UAW.

Green threw out Foxwoods’ complaint to the National Labor Relations Board’s regional office and ordered the election results certified.

“To a large extent, the evidence presented by the employer related to statements and conduct by unidentified people or unidentified employees,” Green wrote in a decision recently.

“And in the case of the alleged threat to cause deportations, this was based on unadorned hearsay allegedly heard by an unidentified friend who told the witness that she was told this by some other unidentified person,” the judge added.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns the casino, said in a statement that it will ask officials at the National Labor Relations Board’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to review the ruling.

“We are pursuing these objections to ensure that our employees are given the right to cast their vote using a ballot that they understand, and to do so in an atmosphere free from intimidation and harassment,” the tribe said.

Foxwoods, one of the world’s largest casinos in southeastern Connecticut, filed the complaint after dealers voted 1,289 to 852 in favor of unionizing. About 2,700 dealers work at the six casinos at Foxwoods, which is also opening a new gambling venue, MGM Grand at Foxwoods, this year.

Jack Edwards, a casino dealer and member of the union organizing committee, said the union expected to win the labor case and he was “excited” by the ruling.

“Now that we’ve got the ruling, I’m hoping management comes to the table now ... and not try any more appeals or delays,” he said. “Let’s get a good deal down.”

Tribal officials had argued that the tribe and Foxwoods were not subject to the labor board’s jurisdiction, but a federal court ruled in February that federal labor law applies to Indian tribes and their gambling businesses.

They also accused union officials of intimidating workers by telling them they were keeping lists of dealers, whether they voted and how they voted, and threatening to get them fired if they did not support the union. They alleged union representatives harassed and threatened to harm dealers who did not support unionization.

Foxwoods also claimed ballots were only available in English despite the large number of workers who speak other languages.

The casino asked Green to set aside the election results.

“There is no basis for crediting the employer’s witnesses over the union’s witnesses,” the judge wrote. “I must find that these allegations lack merit.”