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Foxwoods eliminating 125 dealer positions, citing 'increased competition'

By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: theday.com

Published January 23. 2014 11:00AM   Updated January 24. 2014 12:09AM
Casino offers severance to encourage volunteers and avoid any layoffs

Mashantucket — Foxwoods Resort Casino has informed its unionized table-games dealers that it’s eliminating 125 positions, a downsizing it will try to achieve without imposing involuntary layoffs.

Severance packages are being offered to volunteers.

Management announced the “program” Wednesday in a notice sent to members of Local 2121 of the United Auto Workers, which represents some 1,800 dealers at Foxwoods and MGM Grand at Foxwoods. The workforce reduction will occur around March 1.

Foxwoods, in its notice, attributed the move to poor business.

“Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation are forced to make difficult decisions in the wake of increased competition, a historically difficult economic environment, and the overall suppressed gaming market,” the notice said.

Last June’s introduction of table games at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., has provided new competition for Foxwoods and its southeastern Connecticut neighbor, Mohegan Sun.

The early success of the 66 table games initially installed at Twin River prompted the facility to add 14 more tables in December.

Word of the Foxwoods downsizing was posted on a union website.

“Local 2121 deeply regrets the elimination of 120 full-time table game dealer positions and 5 table games assistant floor supervisor positions,” the union said. “We will do whatever we can to assist and support our sisters and brothers and their families.”

According to management’s notice, the positions to be eliminated include 105 dealers at Foxwoods, 15 dealers at MGM Grand at Foxwoods and five assistant floor supervisors at Foxwoods.

Full-time employees who volunteer to accept severance packages will receive two weeks’ pay for every full year of service up to a maximum of 26 weeks plus any earned and unused vacation hours as of the severance date, Foxwoods’ notice said. Medical benefits continue through the last day of the month in which the severance payments end.

“If volunteers for severance do not produce the requisite numbers, involuntary severances will occur,” the notice said.

Under the union contract, employees designated for layoffs may be able to “bump” employees with less seniority. In such cases, those laid off may be entitled to severance benefits.

Foxwoods cut its workforce by about 300 employees in March 2013, with about 80 percent of the reduction achieved voluntarily, according to the casino’s annual report. As of Sept. 30, Foxwoods employed about 7,600 full- and part-time employees.

Mohegan Sun has about 7,200 full- and part-time employees, a Mohegan Sun spokeswoman said.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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