Foxwoods’ Decision To Place Its Workforce On Furlough During Closure Raised Criticism

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Foxwoods Resort Casino, one of the two tribal casinos in Connecticut, has drawn the attention but for all the wrong reasons after it had to close doors on Tuesday. Shutting down operations, the casino management refused to agree to paid leave for its employee force, and instead, put 1,200 union dealers and 4,000 other workers on furlough.

14 Days Closure

In order to contain the spread of the coronavirus /Covid-19/, the state legislature invoked a number of measures, and most non-essential businesses including casinos were ordered to close down, hence Foxwoods, operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, and Mohegan Sun, owned by the Mohegan Tribe, had no other choice but comply and both properties went dark.

The two tribal gaming venues, however, since the start of their operations in 1990, have turned into significant employers in the state, and have contributed more than $9 billion through the years, and closing them down, though temporarily, would affect a lot of people and families.

No Paid Leave For the Workers

After Foxwoods went dark, a local workers’ union, Local 2121 of the United Auto Workers, that represent the casino dealers, released information that the casino refused to negotiate for a paid leave for its employees for the two weeks of the temporary closure, and instead decided to put more than 5,000 people on furlough, making them file for unemployment if they want to get paid during this time.

“In this unprecedented situation, Casinos across the country are paying their workers, even partial wages for 2 weeks, but Foxwoods would not agree to any paid leave. Apparently the Tribe can afford to pay for 2 new casinos, but not for the workers they currently employ!! This is unacceptable.”

Local 2121

Local 2121 informed its members that Foxwoods decided to close doors amid negotiations for the new unionized workers’ contract as the last one expired by the end of December, and left the union with 24-hour notice to inform all affected from the furlough decision members.

The reactive nature of the casino management put pressure on the union in terms of assisting its Foxwoods’ table-dealers and other workers apply for state unemployment benefit, as well as on the state unemployment system, overloading it with a lot of requests in such a short space of time.

“…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.”

John James, President and CEO, Foxwoods Resort Casino

Much alike Foxwoods, the Mohegan Sun casino also closed doors on Tuesday and put most of its employees on furlough. During the period of closure, casino team members would continue to receive health benefits and access to key services, as the casino management informed.

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