Gary Crusader staff report
Union workers at Majestic Star Casinos in Buffington Harbor are celebrating with a new contract that will guarantee them annual pay raises and health insurance.
The contract capped months of negotiations between the Unite Here Local 1 and Majestic Star casinos.
Barry Cregan, senior vice president and general manager for Gary casinos, said the two sides reached an agreement on August 16 and the contract was ratified three days later.
Union spokesman Noah Carson-Nelson said in news reports that members are happy with the new contract.
Carson-Nelson said Unite Here Local 1 represents about 250 of Majestic Star’s cooks, cleaners and cocktail food servers in the hotel and the two casinos in Buffington Harbor. The union’s last contract with Majestic Star was settled in 2014 and expired in 2015, according to Carson-Nelson.
With the new contract, Majestic Star joins Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa Michigan City and Hollywood Casino in Joliet, IL in having negotiated contracts with Unite Here members.
Carson-Nelson told the media that members working at the Blue Chip Casino and Hotel ratified a two-year contract in December 2015. He said that contract included pay raises and kept the same insurance plan. Carson-Nelson said Unite Here represents about 400 cooks, cleaners and servers at the Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa.
Carson-Nelson said of the casinos in the area, only Ameristar in East Chicago has been unable to reach an agreement with its union workers. He said the last contract with Pinnacle Entertainment-owned Ameristar expired in late 2012.
According to the union and employees, the main issue in those negotiations was reportedly health insurance. Employees at the East Chicago casino have the same insurance plan that workers have at other Pinnacle Entertainment casinos.
Workers at the Horseshoe Hammond Casino are not represented by Unite Here.