Majestic Star union protests lack of contract

2013-08-20T14:15:00Z 2013-08-20T15:42:04Z Majestic Star union protests lack of contractBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

Union employees of Majestic Star Casinos visited the Chicago offices of one of its directors Tuesday to kick-start contract negotiations that have dragged on 10 months after their previous contract expired.

The members of Unite Here Local 1 went to the offices of Cezar Froelich, but were not able to meet with the Chicago lawyer, who is one of four directors of the holding company for the casino, according to the union.

"We've fought hard to make these good, middle class jobs in Indiana," stated Cora Sutton, a utility worker at the casino for almost 20 years. "We just want decent wages and to keep benefits intact for our families."

Majestic Star General Manager Craig Ghelfi said it was disheartening to hear the union was taking its complaints to a board member's place of employment. He noted that negotiations on a new contract have been ongoing and another bargaining session is scheduled.

Ghelfi said the company's goal in negotiations is to maintain Majestic Star as a stable, healthy company. The casino general manager said he did not want to comment on what specific issues are being hammered out in negotiations.

The union has about 300 members at the casino and this will be their first contract negotiated since Wayzata Investment Partners, of Minnesota, bought the company out of bankruptcy in late 2011.

Their previous contract expired in October 2012. Majestic Star laid off 80 employees at its two gaming boats in Buffington Harbor at about the same time.

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