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More work at Mohegan Sun goes to out-of-the-area workers

01.22.13

JANUARY 2013, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

More work at Mohegan Sun goes to out-of-the-area workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 4th- The percentage of nonunion construction workers that have been hired for the $50 million construction project at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Plains Township, which is building a new hotel and convention center, is increasing. The project was devided into two parts, the construction of the hotel and the construction of the convention center.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 163 in Wilkes-Barre picketed outside of the Mohegan Sun for several days protesting the hiring of a Missouri-based contractor for the electrical work.

Mohegan Sun responded by setting-up two gates to the construction site, one for nonunion workers and one for union tradesmen. IBEW members were then forced to picket only the nonunion worker gate, so not to cause delays in the construction schedule after other union construction members began not to cross the information picket line.

Michael Kwashnik, Business Manager of Local 163 was unvailable for this story.

Mike Rozitski, President of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council labor federation told the newspaper he is disappointed nearly every construction union affiliated with the labor organization are not being hired for some of the work construction.

Mr. Rozitski said in 2005, when the main casino building was built, a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) was used. But, Mohegan Sun would not sign a PLA for these projects. A PLA is a comprehensive agreement signed by a builder and local craft unions under which a defined construction project is agreed to be completed by workers from local union halls, in return for a guarantee of no strikes, a steady labor supply, and labor peace. Under a PLA, a nonunion contractor could still be hired for a project, but if selected, local unionized workers must be hired.

Bobby Sober, former President and CEO of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, stated in mid-October 2012 that more than 90 precent of construction workers on the project were supplied by the 14 local unions affiliated with the building trades council.

However, Mike Bean, who replaced Mr. Sober, stated in December after the IBEW began picketing the hotel and convention center construction, that approximately 50 percent of the workers hired were union. Something, Mr. Rozitski disputes. “It would be more like 40 percent.”

Mr. Rozitski told the newspaper it is encouraged for union members to travel a little further to Mount Airy Casino to gamble because they hire local unionized construction workers. “It is time to send Mohegan Sun a message. They want local people to spend their money there, then hire local people,” added Mr. Rozitski.

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