Island View Casino Employees Seek Federal Injunction to Block Coercive “Card Check” Unionization Drive
**Gulfport, MS (August 14, 2007)** – Three employees of the Island View Casino have filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop union organizers from obtaining confidential information about Island View employees and from demanding other organizing assistance from Island View management in violation of federal labor law.
In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi with the help of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, the three employees, detail how Teamsters, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) and UNITE-HERE union officials are attempting to violate the Labor Management Relations Act by demanding that Island View hand over “things of value” to union organizers. Among these, Teamsters, IUOE, and UNITE union organizers have demanded confidential records containing personal information about employees, sweeping physical access to Gulfside’s properties for organizing, and control over all communications Gulfside has with its employees concerning the unions.
The federal law provisions at issue are meant to prevent sweetheart deals between employers and unions which induce union officials to sell out the interests of the employees they are supposed to represent.
The unions’ demands are part of a “Memorandum of Agreement” that union officials signed with the management of the Grand Casino Gulfport. The remaining assets of the now-defunct Grand Casino were purchased by the Gulfside Casino Partnership in December 2005 after the Grand Casino was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
So-called “neutrality and card check” agreements give union organizers sweeping power to browbeat rank-and-file workers into union ranks. Armed with confidential personnel information, union organizers often make “house calls” where they can intimidate or harass employees into signing cards that are then counted as “votes” for unionization. “Card checks” also deny employees the privacy and limited protections afforded workers during a National Labor Relations Board-run secret ballot election over whether to unionize.
In past National Right to Work Foundation-assisted cases, employees have reported being misled about the cards’ true purpose, and some employees have even had to threaten police action to get union organizers off their property. The Island View employees and their co-workers are particularly concerned about the prospect of home visits from union organizers, after hearing stories of intimidation during organizing drives at other area casinos.
“Union bosses are determined to force unionization on Island View employees from the top down, like it or not,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “These employees believe that the union bosses are more concerned with bolstering union ranks than with representing rank-and-file employees.”
Mississippi is one of 22 Right to Work states in which union membership and dues payment is strictly voluntary. However, if union officials are granted monopoly bargaining power over Island View employees, the workers will no longer be free to negotiate individually over their own wages and working conditions.