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Connecticut Casinos Opened to Union Organizers

8 June 2004

CONNECTICUT – As reported by the Connecticut Day: "Shattering a longstanding precedent that excluded American Indian employers from federal labor law, the National Labor Relations Board last week issued a decision that gives the 20,000 employees who work at Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun the right to join unions, engage in collective bargaining and take their workplace complaints to a federal agency.

"The decision, which is likely to be tested in courts throughout the country –– perhaps even the U.S. Supreme Court –– was hailed as a major victory Monday by union supporters and by state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

"…The decision involved a dispute between the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians, a California gaming tribe, and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, which is attempting to organize casino workers throughout the country. Though the arguments were centered on the West Coast, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes submitted briefs in support of the San Manuel Indians, and the state of Connecticut joined the case as an intervenor.

"…The board said it would apply the act on a 'case by case' basis and adopt an approach 'which better accommodates the need to balance the board's interest in federal labor policy with its responsibility to respect federal Indian policy.'

"Tribes and their advocates have argued that applying the National Labor Relations Act interferes with their right to self-governance. In Connecticut, the two gaming tribes say a union is not necessary since they provide a good workplace…"

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