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Latest News - August 2010

August 09, 2010
Foxwoods claims union misconduct
Tribe’s appeal cites supervision of labor board
Source: Norwich Bulletin

Mashantucket, Conn. — Foxwoods Resort Casino on Monday filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board, objecting to the board’s supervision of a July 31 union vote by the casino’s beverage department workers and accusing the union of misconduct.

The casino and its tribal owner, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, last week disclosed its intention to appeal. Bartenders, drink servers, and bar porters voted 190-145 to affiliate with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 371.

Connecticut National Labor Relations Board Regional Director Jonathan Kreisberg confirmed receipt of the objection late Monday afternoon. His Hartford office will investigate the claims.
“It may require a hearing,” he said.

Union agents violated the conditions for a free and fair election by telling workers they would lose their jobs with the positions going to tribal members, Foxwoods said in its objection, which was signed by Seth Borden and Richard Hankins, of the New York law office of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP.

Unexpected death
The unexpected death of Local 371 President Brian Petronella at his home Friday in Norwalk has added an unusual dimension to the case. The 54-year-old Petronella last week called for the casino to accept the vote and proceed to contract negotiations under tribal law. The tribe rejected that, saying it couldn’t accept the results of a vote overseen by the labor relations board on tribal lands.

“Further appeals are denying the workers the right to sit down and negotiate a fair contract,” Petronella said in an Aug. 3 press release.

Repeated appeals to the labor board asking that it overrule itself, are not pointless, said Clyde Barrow, a professor of gaming and public policy at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
“There are differences between the regional office and the central office,” he said. “It’s not out of the question that the central office would overrule the regional.”

Last month’s election was overseen by the labor board’s Hartford office.

A woman who answered the phone at Local 371’s Westport headquarters on Monday said the union had not yet determined how it would manage Petronella’s duties. Petronella, the son of a union leader, was involved in several high-profile cases, including one earlier this year involving a possible strike at Stop & Shop supermarkets in Connecticut. The strike was averted.

The union lost an election among Foxwoods beverage workers last year that was held under tribal law. Petronella didn’t protest the outcome of that vote, but this year pushed hard for labor board supervision. The Washington-based central board sided with the union, rejecting a Foxwoods appeal on the eve of the vote.

Following the vote, Petronella called for a “compromise” in which the beverage workers’ salary and benefits contract would be negotiated under tribal law. The casino declined that, going so far as to hint at possible action in federal courts aimed at stopping what the tribe views as further encroachments on its sovereignty.
Copyright 2010 Norwich Bulletin. Some rights reserved



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