Casino workers to rally in cars in Indy for safe working conditions

Saturday 16th May 2020


A car caravan of casino workers from across Indiana will converge on the state capitol Friday to demand safe working conditions when the casinos start to reopen in June.

Cleaners, cooks, servers, and bartenders from Ameristar Casino East Chicago, Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Caesars Southern Indiana in Elizabeth, and Indiana Grand Casino in Shelbyville plan to rally in their cars around Monument Circle in Indianapolis at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time to lobby the state for enhanced health and safety measures.

"The way my co-workers and my company have been helping each other out during this crisis -- I've never been prouder to work here," said Tina Mack, a bartender at Majestic Star Casino. "I'm proud to have good union health insurance that keeps me and my coworkers safe and healthy. I want to be proud of how the casinos reopen, too. I want to be able to tell my customers that Majestic Star is safe for them to come back."

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Under Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's reopening plan, casinos can begin to reopen on June 14th after submitting plans for Indiana Gaming Commission approval.

UNITE HERE Local 1, which represents workers at Ameristar East Chicago, Blue Chip Casino-Michigan City, and Majestic Star Casino in Gary, is calling for enhanced safety measures to keep workers safe from coronavirus that's killed more than 86,000 Americans.

It notes that Indiana taxpayers benefit from safe and healthy casinos since Ameristar, Blue Chip, Caesars Southern Indiana, Indiana Grand, and Majestic Star casinos generated $66.4 million in tax revenue in the first three months of the year, and Indiana will lose out on at least $150 million in gaming tax revenue in the second quarter.

The union also is pressing for more affordable health insurance to workers in case they do get sick after returning to work.

"I have COPD, diabetes, and fibromyalgia, which weakens my immune system. I already struggle to get the health care I need because my health insurance has a $2,800 deductible," Indiana Grand bartender Terri Mitchell said. "I'm terrified that if this virus gets me, I won't get to see my grandbabies grow up."

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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