Casino Employees Continue Strike In West Virginia

Published on: April 1, 2008 

Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort in Chester, West Virginia are still without any resolution to the strike of two hundred of its workers that are part of the United Food and Commercial Workers union.  Cashiers, attendants, count room employees and slot machine technicians walked off the job at 12:01am Saturday, March 29, 2008 after negotiation on a new contract fell through the night before.   

Surprisingly enough, the strike has not affected the revenues in the mountain states premiere resort.  The slots brought in $828,000.00 on Friday night and then and additional $1,115,000.00.  The two days were the strongest showing for the slots since the casino opened.  Management supervisors and other employees that did not walk out or were part of the union took up the slack left by the striking workers to keep things running as smoothly as possible at the casino.   

So far the picket line and striking employees have conducted themselves in an orderly and professional manner.  They are receiving strong support from the many other unions in the state.  Functions that were scheduled at Mountaineer have been canceled or postponed until the union strike is resolved.
A federal mediator has been assigned to the case to help construct a contract that is agreeable to both parties.  The members of the UFCW have been working under a contract extension since the first of March, but as the contract negotiations began to crumble, striking seemed imminent.  The biggest sticking point on the contract?  Health care issues, a recurring theme in the entire state and states surrounding it.   

Ted Arnault, president and chief executive officer of the casino has been encouraging the striking workers to come back to work and let the professionals handle the contract negotiations on their behalf.  In a state where jobs are scarce in the first place, he wants his employees to ‘continue service our customers with the same dedication Mountaineer has always been known for’.  Since the addition of the gaming tables to the state, the casinos have been able to offer higher paying jobs to many people in the state.

The UFCW, however, is not planning to budge on the current 37.7% their members are paying towards their health care.  Managers at the casino are only paying 18% of their health care benefits and the union feels that the hourly waged employees should be allowed the lower rate as well.  Negotiators will not return to the table unless Mountaineer agrees to move on the health care issue and lower the cost their members are paying.

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