The coronavirus-induced shutdown of Foxwoods Casino Casino occurred during contractual negotiations between the casino management and the syndicated table game dealers represented by Local 2121 of the United Auto Workers.
The casino was closed to the public on Tuesday evening for two weeks, although the shutdown could probably take much longer. Foxwoods has provided its workforce to over 5,000 employees.
Following the closure of the casino, the union informed its members that Foxwoods would not accept paid workers’ leave. In the past few days, the union has helped members apply for unemployment benefits at local Norwich offices.
“Our club is very disappointed by Foxwoods who refused to negotiate paid leave for our members in the week before announcing the inevitable closure,” said John DelMonte, president of Local 2121, in a statement. “We were proactive in seeking their assistance early, and instead chose to be responsive. The venue was given 24-hour notice to try to notify all of our 1,200 workers that they would be forced to work for two weeks and forced to collect unemployment if they wanted minimal compensation.
“This caused serious difficulties for our members and 4,000 other Foxwoods workers, as well as overloading our state’s unemployment system,” said DelMonte. “We expected better.”
In response, John James, Foxwoods president and CEO, made a 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 orders / requests from the Governor and other heads of state, “said James. “We recognize and respect our duty to bargain and intend to continue this obligation as things progress. However, we must also be agile as things develop rapidly. We evaluate and respect all the members of our team and we want to do what we it is better for them and business so that we can all get out of it in a way that allows us to recover. “
The terms of the previous Local 2121 contract, which expired on 31 December 2019, remain in force until a new agreement is reached. Neither party commented on the state of the ongoing negotiations.
Mohegan Sun also closed to the public on Tuesday evening and, like Foxwoods, canceled or postponed all the shows and events that had been scheduled for April.
“During our temporary closure amid the unprecedented global health crisis, almost all of our team members were put to flight,” said Jeff Hamilton, president and chief executive officer of Mohegan Sun. “During this time, members of the teams will continue to receive health benefits, access to key services and regular communication remains in effect. Our leadership team’s top priority is to return all interested team members to a reopening, at which point we have the utmost confidence that we will return stronger than ever … “
Casinos, both commercial and tribal, have closed across the country. The Rhode Island Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton, which initially expected to close for a week, will remain closed on March 27 at least, state officials said.
Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts, which owns Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Massachusetts, which closed on Sunday, has announced that it will continue to pay employees on all its properties for 30 days during the coronavirus pandemic.