Union gathers signatures in bid to organize Foxwoods workers 6-25-07

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. (AP) - United Auto Workers officials said they have started gathering signatures in a bid to unionize workers at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

The union, formally called the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, hopes to force a vote by gathering signatures from at least 30 percent of the potential members of the proposed bargaining unit.

Signatures are being gathered in employee parking lots and break areas and outside the casino. The UAW has not said how many employees it is targeting or which jobs they hold. The casino is owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which employs 11,430 people in Connecticut.

A federal appeals court ruled earlier this year that Native American casinos are bound by the National Labor Relations Act, which sets rules for unionization.

“This organizing effort is on rock solid legal ground so far as rights of working people at the casino are concerned,” said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. “Recent rulings by the courts uphold this right and will have broad far-reaching impact here and across the country.”

Foxwoods officials have been fighting the unionizing efforts, telling employees they will be required to pay dues and may lose benefits through negotiations.

Jacqueline Little of Coventry, R.I., a poker dealer who has worked at Foxwoods for 15 years, said she is encouraging her co-workers to sign union cards.

“We all love our jobs,” Little said. “We're working there by choice so I don't want you to think we're very contentious. What we want is a better workplace. I feel if we win, the company wins, the players win, everyone benefits.”
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