Foxwoods Furloughs Interrupt Union Negotiations

Labor negotiations between Foxwoods Resort Casino and the union that represents its dealers fell through after the casino was forced to close by the coronavirus. Now the union is crying foul because those workers won’t be paid during the furlough. Foxwoods CEO John James (l.) says the resort needs to be “nimble.”

Foxwood Resort Casino’s furloughing of workers due to the coronavirus came when the casino was in the midst of negotiations with its dealers union Local 2121 of the United Auto Workers. The contract expired in December.

The casino has been closed for nearly two weeks and that could be extended. The Connecticut casino, one of two Indian-operated casinos in the state, sent home more than 5,000 workers. The union represents 1,200 of those.

Mohegan Sun also has closed after being urged to do so for several days by Governor Ned Lamont.

After the casino closed the union told its members that Foxwoods had not agreed to pay them while they are gone. The union is helping members apply for unemployment.

John DelMonte, Local 2121 president, issued this statement: “Our local is very disappointed Foxwoods refused to negotiate paid leave for our members in the week prior to announcing the inevitable shutdown.” He added, “We were proactive in seeking their assistance early on, and they instead chose to be reactive.”

DelMonte said the union got 24 hours’ notice before the workers were furloughed without pay.

Foxwoods President and CEO John James responded with this statement: “These are unprecedented times for all of us and we are making business decisions based on a variety of factors, including the safety of our Team Members and guests as well as the requirements and/or guidance of executive orders/requests from the governor and other state leaders.”

He added, “We recognize and respect our duty to bargain and intend to continue that obligation as things progress. However, we also have to be nimble as things develop rapidly. We value and respect all of our Team Members and want to do what is best for them and the business such that we can all come out of this in a manner that allows us to recover.”

Unlike Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun announced that its furloughed employees “will continue to receive health benefits, access to key services and regular communication remains in effect as well. The top priority of our leadership team is to return all affected team members upon a re-open, at which point we have the ultimate confidence we’ll return as strong as ever.”