EAST CHICAGO, IN – The union for workers in gaming, hotels, and food service industries, UNITE HERE, has launched a new website intended as a resource for customers of Northwest Indiana casinos who need to know whether labor disputes could affect their plans in the area.
The website, www.indianagamingalert.org, will be regularly updated with information about actual and potential labor disputes affecting NW Indiana casinos and the status of contract negotiations. Concerned customers and visitors to the site may sign up for email updates, as well as find strategies to protect their event or travel plans from the possibility of being impacted by labor disputes.
Consumers’ need for such a resource is especially great now, as East Chicago’s Ameristar Casino is embroiled in a lengthy labor dispute with UNITE HERE. Union workers had been in negotiations with Ameristar, which was bought in 2012 by Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc., based in Las Vegas.
In May, Pinnacle cut the affordable, family-supporting union health plan that union workers at Ameristar East Chicago had enjoyed for years. Family coverage under the Pinnacle plan will charge employees up to $4,000 per year in payroll deductions, beginning in 2016. Under the union plan, employees paid nothing for individual coverage and $30/month for family and dependent coverage. Ameristar is now the only union riverboat casino in Northwest Indiana that does not offer a union health care plan for its 200 union workers.
The cleaners, servers, and bartenders at Ameristar have called for a boycott of the property until the contract is settled. Workers at Ameristar have begun reaching out directly to regional community members and customers to keep them informed and ask for support.
Indianagamingalert.org is part of that effort. Items recently posted to the site include:
· Profiles and stories of area casino workers
· An online pledge to boycott, signed by customers and the general public, demanding Ameristar Casino settle a fair contract that maintains the union health plan.
· Photo gallery of customer and community supporters/pledge signees
· News stories/press about the Ameristar boycott
UNITE HERE Local 1 represents nearly a thousand workers at three Northwest Indiana casino properties: 200 workers at Ameristar, 300 workers at Majestic Star, and 450 workers at Blue Chip Casino.