In the first election at an Indian casino to be overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, dealers at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut voted in late November (Nov. 24) to be represented by the United Auto Workers Union. With 10,000 employees, Foxwoods is the biggest private employer in the state; 2,600 of them would be in the bargaining unit. Casino management has appealed the decision, claiming it violates tribal sovereignty. Melinda Tuhus reports.
Cut :02 I’m a dealer. Blackjack’s my main game.
Mary Johnson began working at Foxwoods 14 years ago, just a year after it opened. The casino rises from the hills of rural southeastern Connecticut like a gambler’s Oz. She says conditions were pretty good until the past year, when a five percent across the board raise turned out to be just a pennies per hour increase for some workers. Johnson says starting dealers make about $4.50 an hour base pay, and $18 to $20 an hour counting tips. She says management earlier this year disbanded the employee group council, raised medical insurance deductibles and reduced its drug prescription plan. So the workers asked the UAW to represent them. The union has a history of successfully organizing workers at other casinos – an industry that rakes in $22 billion annually and is growing fast. The union won the election by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent. Johnson says it probably would have been higher…
Striking nurses in West Virginia and Kentucky will vote today and tomorrow on a new tentative agreement that could send them back to work soon. Although details of the new contract will remain confidential until after the vote, union leaders have endorsed it.
Nearly 700 members of the United American Nurses (UAN) union have been on strike at nine Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) hospitals since Oct. 1. The UAN members are seeking a contract with safer staffing levels and higher patient care standards. The nurses are concerned that management’s staffing decisions and rampant mandatory overtime are preventing them from giving patients the best possible care. ARH hired replacement nurses and housed them in vacant wings of the hospitals.
By Doug Cunningham
Nataline Sarkisyan, the California teen denied a liver transplant by Cigna, died just hours after Cigna relented and agreed to pay for the transplant. The California Nurses Association (CNA) protested Cigna’s initial refusal to pay for the transplant and organized a protest that forced Cigna to reverse its decision. But CNA says Cigna should have allowed the transplant a week earlier. The CNA says the giant insurance company should have just listened to medical professionals who said the transplant was medically necessary. CNA says this final outcome is a horrible tragedy that demonstrates what is so fundamentally wrong with the U.S. health care system. The system puts profits before health care, and the CNA says companies like Cigna deny care to maximize profits.
The Bush administration’s National Labor Relations Board has continued its anti-worker, anti-union campaign, ruling that employers can bar workers from sending union-related e-mails at work.
That’s the modern day equivalent of blocking us from talking around the office water cooler or using the break room bulletin board.
In New York City’s booming construction industry, at least 50,000 workers are misclassified by employers as independent contractors or are working off the books—costing workers lost wages and benefits and local, state and federal governments nearly $500 million in 2005. A new report says that without tougher enforcement of employment and wage laws, the cost could jump to as much as $557 million next year.
Building up New York, Tearing Down Job Quality, released this week by the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI), estimates nearly a quarter of the city’s 200,000 construction workers are part of the growing “underground economy.”