Andrea Goodrich, president of the union that represents gaming industry jobs, writes the best financial bet for the state is a third casino operated by Connecticut’s two federally recognized tribal nations.
As President of UAW Local 2121, the Union that represents 1400 Casino Dealers, Assistant Floor Supervisors, and Poker Associates in Connecticut, I would like to respond to a statement made yesterday by Robert Proto of the Unite Here International Union. Mr. Proto suggested that our state needs “real jobs and real revenue,” which he believes can only be attained through a competitive bidding process for a new Connecticut casino.
These words are as dangerous as they are insulting. They imply that the jobs and revenue a third tribal casino would create and protect are insignificant–something that all Foxwoods dealers would disagree with.
Over the past two-and-a-half decades, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have contributed more than $7 billion in revenue to Connecticut’s General Fund, and employed thousands of Connecticut residents. These are meaningful jobs that often turn into long careers–in Local 2121’s Bargaining Unit alone, over 50% of members have held their position for over 10 years. They’re also jobs that people depend on to put dinner on the table, put a roof over their heads, and provide a good life for their families.
It’s hard to understand how these jobs could be considered anything other than very real, and very worth saving. This is exactly what Senate Bill 957, which would authorize the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes to build a third casino in East Windsor, intends to do. SB 957 is the only piece of legislation in front of state lawmakers that would give Connecticut a real chance to compete with MGM Springfield. It will protect many of the 9,300 jobs, and millions of dollars in state tax revenue, that could otherwise be lost when the Massachusetts facility opens next summer.
SB 957 passed the State Senate, and there’s no time to waste in getting it through the House. State representatives should appreciate everything the two Tribes have done for Connecticut–including their commitment to collective bargaining and fair labor practices. They should recognize that the Tribes have done their homework on site selection, and that the East Windsor site is currently shovel-ready. And they shouldn’t ignore the fact that the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans were the first to come forward with solutions when MGM Springfield was announced.
MGM and Unite Here were late to the conversation, and the only reason they’ve joined it now is because they want to keep competition away from Springfield’s front door. MGM has no actual interest in building here, which is why they had no problem agreeing not to open another casino within a 50 mile radius of Springfield.
All they are trying to do is protect their bottom line. They know they’re going to lose $20 million a month once the world class entertainment and gaming facility opens in East Windsor.
The United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers, United Food and Commercial Workers, International Union of Operating Engineers and Building Trades all support SB 957 and the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes. Local 2121 urges members of the House to act out of consideration for the people and communities of Southeastern Connecticut, which will be devastated if this bill doesn’t pass.
State legislators should absolutely look for other ways to assist Southwestern Connecticut, but shouldn’t believe for one minute that MGM really wants to invest in our state. It’s important that they see the open-process push for what it is: a losing proposition for the state.