Union members were doing a "visibility" protest, trying to make sure casino customers and others are aware of what they say are unfair labor practices.
"We're trying to let them know what's going on," protest organizer Peggy Shorey said. The object, she said, was to obtain recognition for the union and the issues its members are facing with MGM Grand.
Shorey said many dealers were joining the demonstration before and after their shifts.
It was hard at times Saturday to hear Bob Fandetti talk.
Cars, buses and trucks speeding down Route 2 blew their horns loudly as Fandetti, a dealer at Foxwoods Resort Casino, explained why he and his fellow pro-union co-workers were rallying in front of the entrance to the new MGM Grand hotel and casino, which opened at the strike of midnight Saturday.
Dealers want the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns the casino, to recognize their decision to join the United Auto Workers union six months ago. The tribe has questioned the authority of the National Labor Relations Board, which oversaw the union election.
The pro-union dealers are also upset that their counterparts at the new casino aren't going to pool tips with other Foxwoods' dealers.
”Under tribal law we wouldn't have no so-say whatsoever,” Fandetti, a 10-year employee, said of the dealers' decision to join the United Auto Workers union six months ago.“We voted for it - we're not going away.”
George Taylor, a pro-union dealer, said the casino is“creating disparity” among the dealers at the MGM Grand and Foxwoods by not having pooled tips. Normally, all dealers' tips are collected and then divided based evenly among the workers based on how many hours they work.
The move is“ completely unfair,” Taylor said, and it's“ definitely designed to divide us and weaken us.”
Bunches of pro-union dealers demonstrated in various spots along Route 2 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday trying to draw attention to their cause through the high-profile opening of the new MGM Grand. The dealers have a large rally planned for 9 a.m. today, with fellow casino workers coming by bus from Atlantic City and New York to show support.
A new policy that went into effect Saturday restructures the way tips are distributed among dealers, which the union says will decrease their earnings.
Shorey said the tipping policy is just one example of the casino refusing to bargain with the union, and another reason the dealers want to have union contracts.
The union won an election last fall to represent table game dealers at Foxwoods. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns the casino, has challenged the union election several times, saying federal labor law doesn't apply to a casino on tribal land.
A spokesman for the tribe criticized Saturday's protest.
"What you're looking at is a lack of respect for tribal law and a publicity stunt," said Bruce MacDonald, the spokesman.
He said the dealers could have bargained under the federal Tribal Labor Relations Act, which has its own standards of fair labor practices, instead of joining the UAW. The dealers could be bargaining now instead of protesting, MacDonald said.
The union will begin today's protest with a morning rally from 9:30 to 10:30, and is expecting Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, state legislators, union leaders, game dealers and other union members to attend.
MGM MIRAGE ARE UNION - BUSTERS
MGM Mirage in Las Vegas continues to SPEND Millions of Dollars in their attempt to try to STOP the Casino Security Professionals from Organizing with the International Union Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America SPFPA.
The SPFPA who are supporting the UAW dealers is planning to have their own Informational Picketing at several MGM Mirage Casinos on Memorial Day weekend. http://www.SPFPALOCAL7777.ORG http://www.spfpalocal7777.org/INFOMATIONALPICKETING.html