Casino workers in Des Plaines, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are continuing their call for the opportunity to unionize, according to UNITE HERE. Casino and hospitality workers at Rivers Casino Des Plaines, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, and Sugarhouse Casino want Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm "to keep his promise to for a fair process for them to decide whether to unionize." According to the union, Bluhm and his family's trust funds own the company that oversees the casinos.
“All we’re asking is they make good on a fair process,” said Rosaura Villanueva, a dishwasher at Rivers Casino Des Plaines. “But these casinos haven’t been neutral at all. That’s why we decided to come to Bluhm's headquarters – so they would see that we’re not going to be divided by tactics dreamed-up by anti-union consultants. We are united for a fair process.”
Casino workers have been seeking the right to consider union representation since August 2011 in Philadelphia, April 2013 in Pittsburgh, and October 2013 in Des Plaines. But despite claims to investors that the company is adoping a fair process to allow workers to unionize without repercussions, "Bluhm casinos have embarked on an intimidation and harassment campaign," UNITE HERE claims.
"Bluhm’s casinos' oversight companies also gave $515,000 to a group led by an anti-Obama blogger calling itself 'Kulture Consulting LLC' in return for union-busting services at the two casinos in Pennsylvania. In September 2013, Rivers Pittsburgh settled 29 federal unfair labor practice charges," the union added in a release calling on Bluhm to keep his original promise to offer a fair process surrounding the right to seek union representation.
Kulture Consulting was founded by Peter List, a writer for RedState.com and editor and chief blogger at LaborUnionReport.com, according to UNITE HERE.
“Kulture is a curious choice of consultant for a company affiliated with Mr. Bluhm,” Carly Karmel, UNITE HERE Local 1 spokesperson, said. Bluhm is a well-known Democratic fundraiser, and his investment firm Walton Street Capital invests retirement funds for many of the country’s largest public sector pension plans, the union noted.