Tribal factions collide at Chukchansi Gold hotel-casino
Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino officials confirmed Friday that they have reached a five-year collective bargaining agreement for its 700 union workers.
The Coarsegold-area resort, closed since last October, is projected to reopen in September pending approval from the National Indian Gaming Commission and state Attorney General.
Christian Goode, the resort’s chief operating officer, said the five-year deal provides “good-paying jobs,” raises and low-cost health vision and dental insurance for employees with San Jose-based Unite Here, Local 19. The deal with the union includes raises for workers above the rate of inflation.
Unite Here represents workers in the hotel, gaming, food service, airport, textile, manufacturing, distribution, laundry and transportation industries. The union previously represented Chukchansi Gold employees before the casino was closed last year.
Overall, Goode said, just under 1,000 will be hired to work at the hotel and casino. Documents filed in U.S. District Court last year said Chukchansi Gold had 1,044 employees before the closure.
700The number of Chukchansi Gold employees covered under the new union deal.
Chukchansi Gold can open during September but will likely not make the Labor Day weekend opening that Goode forecast last month.
“That date was always ambitious, but it won’t be too long after that,” he said. “It will be September for sure.”
Chukchansi Gold was closed Oct. 9 after a factional dispute led to a gaming office raid to get documents for audits that had not been sent to the federal government. The casino had been under threat of closure by the federal gaming commission when the raid occurred. The raid resulted in 15 arrests.
“From the moment we set out to restore the casino, our first order of business was to take care of all our displaced employees who were the innocent victims of last year’s closure,” Goode said.
Enrique Fernandez of Unite Here Local 19 said in a prepared statement that “we look forward to this new partnership. We hope to replicate the new Chukchansi model for negotiating partners in other casinos across the state.”
The tribe is hiring as many former employees as possible, said tribal council Chairman Reggie Lewis.
“A lot of the employees are the same ones coming back,” he said.