United Auto Workers Not Happy With Casino Smoking Delay
By Christopher Keating on May 12, 2009 3:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
The yellow-shirted United Auto Workers have been pushing hard for a smoking ban at the state's casinos, and they were not happy Tuesday with the finance committee's failure to vote on the issue. The battle has turned into an issue of union muscle at the state Capitol, where the Democrats who control the legislature are often strong allies of the unions.
"The Finance Committee has side-stepped the issue completely, potentially preventing legislators from exercising their responsibility to protect Connecticut workers' safety. We will continue to get lung cancer, asthma, and heart disease from inhaling second-hand smoke at our jobs," said Jack Edwards, a Foxwoods dealer for more than 12 years. "If nothing further happens with this legislation, then our elected officials will have turned their backs on their obligation to protect working people in Connecticut. If anyone thinks the agreements the Governor has negotiated with the tribes help us, they are flat-out wrong."
Edwards told Capitol Watch that he developed asthma after working amidst the smoke at Foxwoods. Yet, he still continues working there.
"I developed asthma, and I never had it before,'' Edwards said after the finance committee adjourned. "I like doing the job. I like interaction with people.''
Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell has signed agreements with both the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequots to limit smoking on a voluntary basis.
"The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes have waged a public relations campaign designed to keep the status quo," said Bob Madore, UAW Region 9A Director. "We have seen threats of withholding money, lawsuit threats, and studies not based on facts. But in truth, workers are the ones paying the price. And we will not stop defending the lives of casino employees until there is a full smoking ban."
The UAW represents 2,500 dealers and dual-rate dealers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino, which was a non-union shop until November 2007 when a vote was taken to unionize.
Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum, chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, said, "We thank the General Assembly. Through their action today, they have demonstrated a respect for the government-to-government relationship that has existed between the Mohegan Tribe and the state of Connecticut for generations. We commit to honor that relationship and to continue to work on issues of mutual concern."
EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE; Thanks to the Mashantucket Pequots, who took the alleged agreement between the Mohegans and the state and re did it with Governor M. Jodi Rell. A good job on both sides. Cooler heads have prevailed.