Oregon AFL-CIO wants Indian gambling casinos to be built and operated union

SALEM - Not all jobs in the tourism and entertainment sector need to be low-paid jobs with few or no benefits - at least not in thriving establishments. And the ticket to family-wage jobs in Oregon's highly successful tribal gaming establishments should be a union card with full collective bargaining rights.

That's the message the Oregon AFL-CIO sent to Governor-elect Ted Kulongoski as he considers whether to approve a tribal casino on non-traditional tribal land in Cascade Locks.

Consistent with a position adopted by the labor federation's Executive Board last month, Oregon AFL-CIO President Tim Nesbitt wrote to Kulongoski to express "concerns about the impact on workers' rights and labor standards if tribal casinos are allowed to expand without due consideration to the tribes' exemption from wage and hour laws and laws governing the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively."

These concerns have been heightened, Nesbitt wrote, "by the prospect of expansion of such casinos to non-traditional tribal land, as would be the case with the Warm Springs Tribe's casino at Cascade Locks, and the possibility of other tribes following suit with their own proposals for building and operating tribal casinos on non-traditional tribal land."

The Oregon AFL-CIO asked Kulongoski to withhold approval for any expansion of tribal casinos in Oregon unless the compacts for such casinos include a commitment to build with project labor agreements, recognize collective bargaining rights for casino workers and agree to employer neutrality and expedited recognition of workers' choice of a collective bargaining representative via card-check agreements.

The decision on approval of the Warm Springs Tribe's casino at Cascade Locks was passed to Kulongoski by Governor John Kitzhaber.

Kulongoski is expected to address the issue after he takes office Jan. 13.

From the Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update

January 3, 2003 issue

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