The Associated Press

Biloxi, Miss.

January 28, 2000

More Than 100 Casino Workers Sign Up For Proposed Union Vote

A second round of recruiting casino workers to form a union by labor organizers netted more than 100 people, but more are sought.

"We had a good day," said Peter Fosco, an organizer with the Laborers' International Union of North America. "We're a lot closer to our goal."

The union is seeking to organize most of the 4,000 workers at the Beau Rivage Casino and Hotel on the coast. An organizational meeting held Wednesday drew several interested workers, and Fosco said workers from other casinos have signed up, too.

The National Labor Relations Board requires a union sign up at least 30 percent of the total workforce of a particular company before a vote to join a union can be held. When that happens, the workers can decide if they want to be represented by a union.

Fosco didn't say how many workers have signed cards asking for a union vote, but he said the group would get the required number.

Beau Rivage worker Russell Naron of Biloxi was among the casino workers who met with Fosco.

A certified mechanical engineer, he said the union could help resolve safety and wage issues for employees. "We can't seem to be able to get anywhere with management," he said.

Naron said Beau Rivage paid all of its mechanical engineers the same salary even though not all of them are certified, as he is. "The problem is not the dollar amount, it's the way they pay people," he said.

A spokesman for Beau Rivage, Andy Bourland, declined direct comment on the organizational drive. "We believe all of these issues are internal to the company and prefer to discuss any related concerns through our internal channels of communication," he said.

Executives from Beau Rivage and other Coast casinos have said the union is not needed because the companies provide fair benefits and wages to their employees.

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