Friday, September 24, 2010

Union Takes Issue With Mashantucket Pequot's Tribal Member Hiring Preference

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The incompatibility of federal labor oversight at the Mashantucket Pequot's Foxwoods Casino might become apparent if the Tribe's federally-authorized Indian hiring preferences are questioned by the National Labor Relations Board.

The federal labor board held a hearing yesterday after the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe claimed that Local 371 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union disrupted a July union vote by Foxwoods beverage servers by "making inflammatory appeals to voters' racial and ethnic prejudice," according to an article in The Day newspaper.

Beverage servers, porters, lounge hosts and bartenders voted 190-145 to join the union. The Tribe asserts that the election was not a fair election.

Public reports of the Tribe's plans to halt stipend payments caused one Foxwoods employee to worry whether the Tribe's hiring preferences would mean that more tribal members will be hired at Foxwoods. That's the short version.

The union requested four years' worth of information on the amounts paid to Mashantucket tribal members but when labor board Judge Raymond Green said it was enough for him just to know that halting the payments could mean more members would apply for jobs at Foxwoods, the union withdrew the request.

"The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal and Native American Preference Law states that the tribe must provide preference first to tribal members, then to spouses of tribal members and then to other Native Americans," the article states.

The Tribe's attorney, Elizabeth Conway, said the federal labor board's exercise of jurisdiction on labor issues intrudes on the Tribe's sovereignty.

See article by Brian Hallenbeck, Foxwoods promotion preferences at issue, The Day, (Sept. 24, 2010), http://www.theday.com/article/20100924/BIZ02/309249831/1044