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updated: 5/7/2014 7:50 AM

Agreement: Rivers Casino can't threaten workers wanting union

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  • Officials at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines must post an employee notice saying that workers won't be threatened if they seek to join a union, according to terms of settlement reached late last month resolving unfair labor practice complaints against casino management.

       Officials at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines must post an employee notice saying that workers won't be threatened if they seek to join a union, according to terms of settlement reached late last month resolving unfair labor practice complaints against casino management.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

Rivers Casino management must post a notice to employees promising not to threaten them if they seek to join a union, according to a settlement between the Des Plaines casino and a labor union that's been trying to organize its workers.

The two-page notice must remain on bulletin boards near the employees' time clock and in the back of the house for 60 consecutive days, according to the agreement.

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The settlement, approved April 24 by National Labor Relations Board Regional Director Peter Sung Ohr, resolves unfair labor practice complaints filed by UNITE HERE Local 1, which has charged casino management with "an aggressive anti-union campaign including threats, surveillance, and other intimidation."

"This is a victory for us," said Carly Karmel, a spokeswoman for the union, which represents some 15,000 hospitality workers in the Chicago area. "It allows workers to continue to organize without fear they'll lose their job or benefits. They're continuing to move forward to organize."

Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for Rivers Casino, said management admitted no wrongdoing by agreeing to settle the matter.

"We take great pride in our team and respect the rights of our team members to choose whether or not to be represented by a union," Culloton said in a written statement. "We feel strongly that all team members should be able to make their choices in an environment that is free of harassment and intimidation. So far, our team members have chosen to remain independent. That is their choice and their right."

The employee notice to be posted says casino management won't threaten employees with job loss, loss of health benefits, or other benefits if they choose to be represented by or support a union.

It also says employees have the right to talk about a union during work hours, as long as management also allows conversation about other nonwork topics during working time.

The settlement also withdraws the discipline of two employees for union activity.

The union filed three unfair labor practice cases, totaling 60 individual complaints, since last November. Karmel said the union withdrew one case and related allegations after the casino revised some work rules. The settlement was based on the remaining two cases.

Culloton said the union withdrew more than 40 of their original complaints.

UNITE HERE also is trying to unionize workers at two Pennsylvania casinos run by the same Chicago real estate investor, Neil Bluhm, who has a stake in Rivers. The union has filed and settled unfair labor practice complaints filed against Sugarhouse Casino in Philadelphia and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

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