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Laid-off casino workers take complaints to Indianapolis

Updated: December 19, 2012 12:37PM



Several laid-off Majestic Star Casino employees and family members took their fight to Thursday’s meeting of the Indiana Gaming Commission in Indianapolis.

The casino laid off about 80 workers on Nov. 6, citing the economy, seasonal business fluctuations and increased competition. The workers’ union — Unite Here Local 1 — said the workers didn’t receive advance notice of the layoffs, which typically would be in violation of the contract. But the union’s contract with Majestic Star expired Oct. 1.

The employees didn’t request public comment time ahead of time, so seven people spoke to several commissioners and staff members. Angel Richard traveled to the meeting to help out her mother, Lavern, who worked at the casino as a uniform attendant for 16 years.

“Some had just heard about the layoffs and some didn’t even know or how it occurred,” Richard said. “Because my mother worked there for 16 years, I feel like they did her wrong. They eliminated her job, but they still have other people handing out the uniforms.

“I’m hoping something can be done.”

In the past year, Majestic Star Casino took in more than $200 million in gross receipts over the past year, according to the Indiana Gaming Commission. Minnesota-based Wayzata Investment Partners took over the casino about a year ago after it emerged from bankruptcy. Earlier in October, Wayzata laid off 84 employees at Fitzgerald’s Casino in Tunica, Miss.

Union spokeswoman Carly Karmel said the reason for the layoffs is confusing since guest admissions at Majestic Star have actually increased from 2011.

“I hope they took the time and listened to the stories of our workers, and that they can help out and keep jobs in Northwest Indiana,” Karmel said. “When out-of-state companies come to Indiana and promise to create jobs, we should hold them to their promises.”



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