Unions Ask MGM Springfield to Extend Furloughed Workers’ Benefits

MGM Springfield, the casino property of MGM Resorts in Massachusetts that re-opened last week after more than 3 months of hiatus, has been requested by unions representing workers at the gaming venue to extend benefits for all furloughed workers until the end of the year.

MGM Furloughed Nearly All of Its Staff

The casino-type resort shut down operations mid-March and almost immediately started placing its employees on furlough. The casino had just above 2,000 people working there by the end of 2019, 1,479 full-time employees and 525 part-time workers, and almost all of them had been placed on furlough.

The resumption of operations last week saw around 700 people being recalled back to work, prompting unions representing workers at the property to ask the casino operator to extend benefit payments until the end of the year, as previously, MGM Resorts committed to provide benefits for all eligible workers throughout August only.

One of the largest unions at MGM sites across the country which represents porters, bartenders, cocktail servers, waiters, slot machine attendants and others, Unite Here, is reportedly in discussions with MGM Resorts regarding the pace at which people are being recalled. The union had 600 members working at MGM before the virus struck and only 200 out of them have been brought back to work now.

Union representatives have been pleasantly surprised over the past few weeks at how quickly workers at MGM Springfield are being recalled, with every day bringing more and more employees on the payroll, a trend the union is hoping will continue. With the deadline for benefit payments, August 31, fast approaching, workers at the casino that are currently on furlough are also starting to worry.

Another union, Teamsters Local 404, pointed out management at MGM Springfield has been very cooperative throughout the shutdown and the reopening process, and the union managed to negotiate for its 70 members at the site an extension of their recall rights, ensuring if jobs open up within a year, even the most recently hired ones are being recalled. Teamsters also negotiated for the brought back employees to have health insurance plan and payments started immediately. The union gave up on scheduling change notifications in exchange to allow casino management more flexibility.

The casino has brought all of the cleaners to ensure the necessary cleaning and sanitization of the property is done, and MGM executives outlined more people will be recalled as the property ramps up operations to pre-closure levels.

An independent study released last month showed about 5.4 million people nation-wide have lost their insurance due to job losses between February and May, with Massachusetts being one of five states where the number of uninsured adults has increased by more than 40%. That number nearly doubled in the state, posting a 93% spike.

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