Encore Boston Harbor workers authorize June 30 strike if contract agreement not reached before deadline

Two unions representing workers at the Encore Boston Harbor casino could carry out a strike on June 30, in protest of the low wages and benefits they claim to receive at the establishment. The workers are seeking increases in their updated contract at the Everett, Massachusetts resort.

Worker unions United Here Local 26 and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 25 voted unanimously on Wednesday to authorize the strike, which would begin June 30 if an agreement can’t be reached first.

The unions represent workers including room attendants, cocktail servers, bar porters, cooks, dishwashers and public area cleaners. The workers’ contracts expired on April 19 this year, and negotiations for a new agreement began on March 9.

On Wednesday, 963 workers voted in favor of the strike, and only 13 voted no. Delivery drivers who are members of the Teamsters Local 25 have also asserted that they will not cross the picket line to deliver essentials if the workers go on strike.

Along with improved wages and benefits, the workers are also demanding the establishment do away with the points system that penalizes workers when they are late, even if is for a few minutes, or call out sick if they have used up their allotted sick time. 

Carlos Aramayo, president of Unite Here Local 26, in a video posted on Twitter described the demands of the union. Aramayo said: “A five-star contract with five-star wages, five-star benefits, and five-star job security by midnight on June 30th. We’re going to strike Encore Boston Harbor until we get it done.”

In a statement, Aramayo also said that workers employed at the Encore are making less money for the same job elsewhere in the city. He said: “As an example, a room attendant earns currently about two dollars and change less than a room attendant downtown. They’re looking for the same wages, benefits, and job security that other unionized workers in the hospitality industry have throughout the Boston area.”

In a press release by Unite Here Local 25, Encore bar porter David Hernandez said: 
“Living in the Boston area is very expensive. A lot of people who work at Encore, including myself, need to have more than one job in order to survive. This is why we have to go on strike and fight for that Five-Star contract. It’s about respect.”

In response, Michael Weaver, a spokesperson of Wynn Resorts, in a statement noted that the casino would remain open should workers go on a strike. 

Encore has been actively bargaining in good faith with Unite Local 26 and Teamsters Local 25 since early March, with the goal of providing our employees with competitive wages, benefits and a working environment that reflects our high standards and the experience we strive to create,” Weaver noted. “We have provided a proposal that directly addresses the union’s request for compensation market parity.”

He concluded: “While we are disappointed that the Union has voted to strike, we have indicated to the Union that we remain ready to continue our discussions. We will continue business operations while we work to resolve the issue and are fully prepared to serve our guests if a strike should occur.”