Federal agency: Rivers Casino settles unfair labor practice charges with Union

Rivers Casino promises it will not threaten, discipline workers organizing for a fair process

Des Plaines, IL – Rivers Casino Des Plaines settled unfair labor practice charges filed by the hospitality union UNITE HERE Local 1 for intimidation and harassment of workers seeking a fair process for union representation and maintenance of unlawful workplace rules. As part of the settlement recommended by government attorneys, the casino agreed to inform employees of their right to organize for a fair process to decide whether to form a union free from intimidation and threats. The settlement was approved by the Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB Region”) and represents an important victory for workers at the casino who have been organizing since October 2013 in response to unsafe working conditions, understaffing, and lack of job security.

The casino has responded to workers’ efforts to organize with an aggressive anti-union campaign including threats, surveillance, and other intimidation. Since last November, UNITE HERE Local 1 has filed three unfair labor practice cases with 60 allegations of unfair treatment and illegal work rules.  The casino revised its rules, and the union withdrew one case and related allegations. Attorneys for the NLRB Region found merit to numerous remaining allegations and recommended Rivers Casino settle with the Union to repeal unfair work rules, to remove unfair discipline, and not to threaten employees.

“We will not let Rivers Casino bully us into fear from standing up at work,” said dishwasher Rosaura Villanueva who explains that management told her to “shut up” when she voiced her support for the Union. “I feel vindicated that the federal government has stepped in and protected us against harassment and intimidation from casino management.”

The settlement requires the casino to make 25 specific commitments to employees in its notice—including that it will not interfere with their rights to act together for their own benefit and to join a union. The casino must notify workers that they have the right to talk about a union, and it will not discriminatorily stop them from talking about a union during working time. Among the 25 promises, the casino must explicitly promise that it will not threaten workers with loss of health benefits, job loss, or unspecified reprisal.

Workers at the casino have called for the company to agree to allow employees to decide whether to form a union through a fair process without management harassment or intimidation. Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm is the chairman of the company that owns Rivers Casino.

Employees of Bluhm’s Rivers Casino Pittsburgh and SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia are also organizing for a fair process. In September 2013, Rivers Pittsburgh settled 29 federal unfair labor practice charges, avoiding further prosecution. Earlier this month, SugarHouse Casino settled charges from 2013.

In 2014, Rivers Casino has generated revenue through March greater than its two closest competitors combined.


UNITE HERE Local 1 represents approximately 15,000 hospitality workers in the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana.