Confirmed Friday by Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino officials, 700 of its union workers have a new five-year collective bargaining agreement. Pending approval form the National Indian Gaming Commission and state Attorney General, the resort and casino that has been closed since October is set to open in September.
The new deal provides employees of the San Jose-based Unite Here Local 19 with raises above the rate of inflation, and low-cost dental and vision insurance. The organization that represents workers from the gaming and hotel industries as well as several others, represented Chukchansi employees prior to the casino’s closing last year.
According to documents filed last year in a U.S. District Court, 1,044 workers were employed by Chukchansi Gold prior to the closing, slightly higher than the current number of hires, according to Chukchansi’s chief operating officer and former Genting America’s president, Christian Goode. Expected by Goode to open in time for the Labor Day weekend, Goode said, “That date was always ambitious, but it won’t be too long after that,” adding, “It will be September for sure.” According to Goode, the resort that attracts visitors from the San Francisco Bay area will take three to four weeks to get gaming machines that were leased and had to be replaced, up and running.
The Coarsegold, California casino was forced to close last year after a factional dispute, some of which was caught by security video, occurred on Oct. 9 when a casino office containing audit documents that were not submitted to the government remained. Resulting in 15 arrests and closure by state and federal government agencies, Chukchansi Gold was already being threatened with closure when the raid occurred.
Reggie Lewis, tribal councilman, said as many former employees as possible will be hired by the tribe, which was echoed in this statement from Goode, “From the moment we set out to restore the casino, our first order of business was to take care of all our displaced employees who were the innocent victims of last year’s closure.”
Unite Here Local 19’s Enrique Fernandez said this about the renewed partnership with the Chukchansi, “We look forward to this new partnership. We hope to replicate the new Chukchansi model for negotiating partners in other casinos across the state.”
The Coarsegold casino consists of a 56,000 square foot gambling space with poker room, six dining venues, and a 400 room hotel.