|By Mark Peters, The Hartford Courant,
Conn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jul. 11, 2007 - The United Auto Workers union is accusing Foxwoods Resort Casino of using unfair labor practices, including bribery and threatening, to stop its efforts to organize thousands of workers.
The UAW filed three allegations of unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board this week.
Foxwoods "has interfered with, restrained and coerced employees in the exercise of their right to join a union by threatening employees with termination and other retaliation ... and offering them bribes if they would abandon their support for the union," the union said in its filing.
The filing did not give details of the bribery allegation. The UAW declined to provide additional information.
Foxwoods, which is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, declined to discuss the union's allegations, but issued a short statement Tuesday that said: "The claims made by the UAW are unfounded. They are simply not true, and are a desperate attempt by a union in serious decline to win new members."
One of the allegations involves David Ellsworth, who has been a dealer at the casino for nine years. Ellsworth said he was suspended July 4 after writing a sarcastic remark on an anti-union flier Foxwoods management posted next to an employee elevator. He said he was out of work for a week, but was told to return to work after the UAW filed the allegation. The union said in its filing that Ellsworth was singled out for harsh punishment because of his vocal support for organizing.
Last month, the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America began an organizing drive at the casino by asking employees to sign cards to show support for unionizing. The drive seeks to organize an estimated 3,500 dealers and other casino floor workers, who make up about a third of Foxwoods' workforce.
"I know a couple of people signed, based on my story. I think support is growing," Ellsworth said Tuesday.
Foxwoods opposes unionization and has told workers that joining a union could cause them to lose benefits and pay high union dues.
The NLRB regional office in Hartford will investigate the union's allegations, said John Cotter, the assistant regional director. If the office determines the allegations have merit, it can take them to an administrative law judge. They could eventually be reviewed by the board.
A judge or the board can order a stop to unfair practices and require employers to pay lost wages and benefits.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Tuesday his office plans to review the allegations by the union, calling them "deeply troubling."
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