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Racetrack Slots employees vote on joining union today

BY CRAIG GILBERT [email protected] About 90 employees at Sudbury Racetrack Slots will decide today whether to join the United Steelworkers of America (USWA).

About 90 employees at Sudbury Racetrack Slots will decide today whether to join the United Steelworkers of America (USWA).

If the vote is in favour of unionization, an application will have to be made to the Ontario Alcohol and Gaming Commission (OAGC) and collective bargaining will commence shortly thereafter, according to USWA organizer Denis Dallaire.

?They came to us because they wanted to have a voice in the terms and conditions of their employment,? he said Wednesday.

The big issue is seniority protection and a perceived favouritism in hiring practices, he said.

?The workers have issues with scheduling and retaining seniority when transferring between departments,? said Dallaire.

Dallaire would love to have the media at the information sessions and the vote, but the workers are a little shy, he said. That?s mainly because many are worried they might lose their jobs in the weeks it may take for the gaming commission to approve the move.

?They?re so intimidated as it is, I don?t think they?d feel comfortable,? he said. ?It says a lot about the employer when you have to look over your shoulder.?

Dallaire wants to make it clear that USWA members would not lose out on wage increases to other employees of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLGC), something he said the employer is using as a scare tactic.

Jim Cronin is the OLGC?s head of public relations.

He says the slots have a long history of success that can be attributed to the high-level service efforts of its employees.

?The OLGC recognizes and respects the right of employees to seek union representation,? he said Thursday. ?However, our preference as a company is to deal with our employees directly rather than through a third party.?

City of Greater Sudbury coffers expanded by another $518,000, thanks to profits raised at Sudbury Racetrack Slots at Sudbury Downs in quarter one of fiscal 2004.

To date, the city has received more than $9 million in non-tax gaming revenue since the racetrack slots facility opened five years ago. Payments are made on a quarterly basis.

Since the profit-sharing programs were launched, more than $279 million has been given to host communities. The host municipality receives five per cent of the gross slot machine revenue for the first 450 machines and two per cent for any machines above that number. Funds are used at the
discretion of the municipality.

Sudbury Racetrack Slots opened in late November in 1999 and since then has attracted 2.8 million visitors.


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