The Ameristar Casino of East Chicago has been accused to breaking over 20 labor law violations in a federal complaint filed by the National Labor Relation Board. The Chicago Regional Office filed the charges and a hearing is set to take place in regards to the complaint on the 27th of June. An NLRB administrative law judge will be hearing the complaint.
At the same time as the complaint, members of UniteHere Local 1 are continuing to try and attempt the negotiation of a new contact with the East Chicago casino. The venue is owned by Pinnacle Entertainment and the contract of the venue expired on the 31st of October 2012.
A main issue the union members want to be discussed is health insurance. Members want to be able to keep their former plan for health insurance but the company had decided to switch union members to the same plan that non-union individuals use. The union claims this plan has a higher expense. Members of the union have taken part in several rallies outside the casino to show support for a new contact and have asked for a boycott of the venue by visitors until an agreement can be reached.
According to the filing by the NLRB and UniteHere, the activities by the union are the reason behind some of the violations that have been named against Ameristar of Indiana. Included in the violations named in the complaint, is the firing of a bartender who had worked at the venue for a very long time, after she contacted customers about the boycott. Company management have accused of taking photos of employees who took part in the rallies as well as changing classifications of job positions without negotiating the changes with the union.
The Ameristar General Manager, Matthew Schuffert, responded to the complaint by stating that the filing by the National Labor Relations Board has been taken seriously and the company will address the complaint in a ‘timely and thoughtful manner’. Schuffert further stated that the company cares about every team member of Pinnacle Entertainment. A small percentage of the team members of the company are based at Ameristar East Chicago and are represented by Unite Here.
Unite Here stated that the General Counsel of the NLRB was able to find sufficient evidence to prosecute the allegations placed against Ameristar based on unfair labor practice. The NLRB is asking for those affected by the violations to be ‘made whole’, which means that the casino will have to reimburse employees for any losses that may have occurred due to the violations, plus reimburse the union for legal fees that are associated with the lawsuit, according to Noah Carson-Nelson, a spokesman for Unite Here.