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Published: 8/28/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Unions organize Cleveland casino, aim for Toledo's

BLADE STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES

CLEVELAND -- Workers at a casino in Cleveland have voted to unionize, and four unions working together to represent them are hoping to organize workers at Hollywood Casino Toledo and two other casinos under construction in Columbus and Cincinnati.

The United Auto Workers, the United Steelworkers, the Teamsters, and the hospitality employees union UNITE have joined to form the Cleveland Casino Workers Council as a bargaining unit for workers at the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported Tuesday.

The alliance includes 1,050 Horseshoe employees.

Christina Karas, a spokesman for the Horseshoe Casino, said management is not objecting to the unionization of its employees.

"Our position is one of neutrality," Ms. Karas said. "We're looking forward to having a healthy relationship with the union representatives."

Ken Lortz, Ohio regional director for the UAW, said the UAW and United Steelworkers union are attempting to organize the 1,200 workers employed at Hollywood Casino Toledo.

"We have been working on that for quite some time now," he said.

He said employees at the Toledo casino have contacted the UAW to complain about working conditions at the complex.

"We are still working through some details on a campaign there," he said. "We are not anywhere close to a vote. But, we have sincere interest in representing those workers."

The UAW is also hoping to organize workers at another Hollywood casino scheduled to open in Columbus in October and another Horseshoe casino expected to open next spring in Cincinnati, Mr. Lortz said.

Officials with Penn National Gaming Inc., which owns the Hollywood casinos, did not immediately return calls Tuesday seeking comment.

The Cleveland casino was developed by Rock Ohio Gaming in partnership with Caesar's Entertainment Inc. The partnership also is developing the Cincinnati casino.

The unions plan to determine later which groups of Cleveland casino workers the individual unions will represent on grievances and other issues, according to Mr. Lortz.

An arbitrator certified the election results Aug. 16.

Mr. Lortz said a survey has begun to determine which issues will take priority in Cleveland. Casino workers have expressed concerns about sudden changes in their schedules and mandatory overtime, he said.

"I would hope to get to the bargaining table within the next 30 days," Mr. Lortz said.

Staff writer Mark Reiter contributed to this report.



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