Graton Casino workers hold vote on unionizing
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By Mira Brody  June 27, 2014 12:00 am

Employees of the Graton Resort and Casino held a vote last week in the Events Center on whether or not to unionize.

Currently, employees in support of unionizing believe it will create improved labor practices for the casino’s 600 workers. Representatives from Unite Here Local 2850, an Oakland-based union who represents 100,000 workers in gambling sites in the United States and Canada, are hoping to add Rohnert Park’s new casino to their list.

Graton currently is Sonoma County’s largest employer. By the end of Tuesday’s union gathering, more than 200 people had voted in favor of unionizing.

“When given the choice, people overwhelmingly choose to be represented,” said Wei-Ling Huber, president of Unite Here Local 2850.

Huber stated that unionizing helps protect jobs and create fair rules for employees. 

Greg Sarris, chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, is pro-labor and had made it a right for his employees to unionize if that was the wish of the majority. 

Because of his toleration, the union vote event did not have to be held in private, but was a public event, gathering much anticipation for the workers’ futures.

Although some workers stated they are grateful for the casino’s above-average wages and consistent meal and break time allocation, some are hoping a union will make them feel less intimidated to take vacation days or sick leave.

Sarah Norr, a researcher at Here Local 2850, described the climate the day of voting as “different” compared to other casinos who have a fear of unionizing. Graton will need at least half of the 600 employees to enroll in order to create this union. There are currently 400 workers at the casino’s food court and restaurants, but they are employed separately and will require an isolated drive. They are not covered under the casino’s “right to unionize” agreement. The complete results of the vote have yet to be tallied.

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