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Sun, Mass. labor group reach agreement

By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: The Day

Published November 21. 2012 4:00AM

Mohegan Sun has reached a "neutrality agreement" with the Pioneer Valley AFL-CIO, ensuring that workers at the casino it hopes to build in Palmer, Mass., would have the right to join labor unions.

The Pioneer Valley AFL-CIO is a federation of more than 50 unions whose members work in Hampden County, Mass., including the Springfield area.

"I am pleased to reach this agreement with Mohegan Sun, which affirms their commitment to union labor at Mohegan Sun in Palmer," Richard Brown, president of the Pioneer Valley AFL-CIO, said in a statement released by the casino. "Our members, like the rest of western Massachusetts, look forward to the thousands of quality jobs that will be created by this project and the resort casino industry in Massachusetts."

The agreement, which Mohegan Sun said is the first of its kind for a casino developer in western Massachusetts, formalizes a policy guaranteeing that employees of Mohegan Sun's proposed Palmer facility would have the right to organize, form, join or assist labor organizations, and to engage in collective bargaining. The first jobs to be created from casino gaming in Massachusetts will be union jobs, and we're excited to bring that opportunity to western Mass. and the entire region," Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said in the statement. "By formalizing this commitment to the Pioneer Valley AFL-CIO, we recognize the importance of preserving worker rights to organize once our facility opens in Palmer."

In 2011, Mohegan Sun signed memorandums of understanding with the Pioneer Valley Building Trades Council and Local 108 of the New England Council of Carpenters to ensure the use of union labor during construction of the proposed Palmer casino. The project is one of at least four expected to compete for the one casino license the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will grant for the western part of the state. It would provide more than 1,000 union jobs during construction and as many as 3,000 permanent jobs if it is built, Mohegan Sun officials have said.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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