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Casino Dealers Strike Deal with United Auto Workers Union
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Dealers at Foxwoods casino have negotiated the first union contract in the country agreed under tribal law. The contract will cover 2,500 dealers at the casino, owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

The United Auto Workers won the right to organize dealers at the casino in 2007, but the tribe refused to negotiate a contract under federal labor laws, because of its status as a sovereign nation. After a period of stalemate, the two sides agreed to talk under tribal law. Those negotiations have been going on for more than a year, and now a tentative contract has emerged. It will give the dealers an average 12% increase in wages over two years, and establishes a new system for the distribution of tips – a significant percentage of most dealers’ earnings. The contract also forbids strikes or management lockouts, referring all labor disputes to arbitration. The deal provides for formerly casual dealers to be made into part time employees with benefits. Denise Gladue is a baccarat dealer who’s worked at Foxwoods for 15 years:

“It’s very exciting – this is I think the first under tribal law, so it’s kind of groundbreaking. And right now with this contract we’ve gotten raises and job security and that’s really important in these times.”

The accord must now be ratified by a vote of all the dealers later this week. The union says it hopes the contract may become an industry model, and help to stabilize labor relations in Indian casinos elsewhere in the nation.

For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.