The Cowlitz Indian Tribe has signed a project labor agreement (PLA) with the , and the Carpenters to build its new casino in La Center, Washington. The PLA requires general contractor Swinerton Construction to use union contractors and subcontractors.
According to the Cowlitz Resort project website, the resort —located just west of Exit 16 off of Interstate 5—will consist of a casino of up to 134,150 square feet, restaurants and retail stores comprising up to 260,225 square feet, up to 147,500 square feet of convention and entertainment space, and a hotel with 250 rooms. There will be parking structures for 7,250 vehicles and an RV park for 200 recreational vehicles.
The PLA covers just the first phase of the project, which is the $160 million casino. The tribe wants to break ground early next year. It is expected to create an estimated 250 to 300 construction jobs.
Willy Myers, executive secretary of the Building Trades Council, anticipates that PLAs will be signed for the other phases of the project, including the Exit 16 interchange, which will need to be updated to handle higher traffic volumes.
Cowlitz Tribe Chairman Bill Iyall expects the overall project will generate more than 1,000 construction jobs during the 18-month build-out. Once open, the resort will provide more than 1,500 permanent jobs. The tribe has signed a neutrality agreement that will allow workers to join a union without any interference.
The tribe signed a similar PLA with the construction trades in 2005. The project has been held up in the courts by challenges from several local entities, including the City of Vancouver and the Clark County Board of Councilors.
The Cowlitz Indian Tribe gained federal recognition as a tribe in 2000. In 2010 the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved its application to establish the Cowlitz reservation on 152 acres of land off of I-5.