NLRB takes on Virgin Islands casino commission

Thursday 5th March 2020

ST. CROIX, Virgin Islands (Legal Newsline) - A casino commission in the Virgin Islands and the government as a whole are being called out for their alleged illegal practices.

The National Labor Relations Board sued the Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission and the Government of the Virgin Islands in the District Court of the Virgin Islands Division of St. Croix on Feb. 14.

The board hoped to "declare unlawful certain policy and regulatory actions undertaken under the auspices of Virgin Islands territorial law, specifically the Virgin Islands Casino and Resort Control Act of 1995," according to the lawsuit.

Grape Tree Shores in particular, d/b/a Divi Carina Bay Resorts, typically works in conjunction with The Virgin Islands Workers Union Local 611. The lawsuit came shortly after the board allegedly held a secret election on Aug. 18, 2008, and determined that the union is the only collective-bargaining representative for Divi Carina workers. The union responded with an unfair labor practice charge, along with the board, accusing Divi Carina of refusing to bargain with it, violating the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Divi Carina told the union it couldn't bargain because the union hadn't registered with the commission. The commission later went as far as ordering a cease-and-desist to the union to stop from taking part in any activities with Divi Carina and said that until the union registered, it would be violating the Casino Act if it bargained with Divi Carina, the suit says.

At the same time, the commission said it didn't have the authority to launch criminal sanctions against any labor organization "if it files board charges or engages in any other union activity while unregistered," according to the lawsuit.

After much back and forth, Divi Carina and the Union still have yet to establish a collective bargaining agreement.

The lawsuit alleges, "The commission unlawfully maintains and threatens enforcement of policy under territorial law, impairing employee and union rights under the NLRA."

The plaintiff hopes to get a declaration that the commission's previous orders via the Casino Act are not only invalid, but doesn't align with the NLRA and that it can't stop the union from taking part in activities when it's not registered.

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