Foxwoods Workers to Unionize Amid Company Anti-Union Campaign

MASHANTUCKET, CT – Hundreds of employees of Foxwoods Resort and Casino are one step closer to having a voice in their workplace to speak up for fair wages and working conditions. An overwhelming majority of ESD employees signed cards authorizing union representation by the New England Joint Board of UNITE HERE, a union representing hospitality and gaming workers in New England. Now, the nearly 300 employees of the Environmental Services Department responsible for cleaning and maintaining the casino facilities will be eligible to vote in an election.

Noticing the positive impact other unions have made for workers at Foxwoods, ESD workers began their organizing with UNITE HERE over a year ago. ESD workers have many concerns about their working conditions and say that a union will give them the voice needed to win a better return on their hard work.

“Many of our Foxwoods coworkers have a union and we’ve seen what it’s been like for them to have a voice in the workplace,” says Pierre Tassi, a 10 year ESD worker. “As low wage workers having a say in our benefits and working conditions is critical. If other Foxwoods workers are allowed that voice, why shouldn’t we?”

The predominantly immigrant workforce cites the threat of outsourcing as a prime motivating factor for forming a union. After a department performing kitchen work for the casino was outsourced to a third party vendor last year resulting in drastic benefit changes, ESD workers became fearful they could suffer the same fate.

“We don’t make enough as it is. If our work is outsourced and our benefits get cut like we’ve seen happen to other departments it will be devastating,” said Monica Batty, a Groton resident and 6 year ESD worker. “We have to protect ourselves, and we know the best way to do that is by joining together in a union.”

ESD workers have endured months of anti-union campaigning from management. Last month ESD workers testified to management’s actions before a legislative hearing before the Connecticut General Assembly. The workers’ testimony supported proposed legislation which would outlaw the use of “captive audience meetings” by management in unionization drives. Workers testified to being compelled to attend frequent meetings in which they were lined up against a wall and forced to listen to anti-union talking points without the ability to refuse to attend. More recently, Foxwoods has orchestrated one-on-one meetings between supervisors and workers in which workers are called in to the office and subjected to interrogation about their union support without the opportunity to leave, conduct typically barred in NLRB elections. To add to the anti-union atmosphere, three pro-union workers have been suspended by the company in the last month.

Workers will make their choice to be represented by UNITE HERE in an election conducted under the auspices of the Mashantucket Employment Rights Office. The election date is set for Friday April 20th.



Retired NEJB Staff Member Cynthia Rodrigues to be Honored by Labor Guild

On Friday December 1, 2017 the Labor Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston will be honoring retired business agent and former member Cynthia Rodrigues with the annual Cushing Gavin Award. The annual awards honor exceptional service to the labor relations community in Eastern Massachusetts with awards going to a labor professional, management professional, a yearly alternating labor/management attorney, and a labor relations professional. The New England Joint Board is exceedingly proud that one of our own, Sister Rodrigues, will be receiving this year’s prestigious labor award.

The Labor Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston began in the rich tradition of Catholic Labor Priests and Catholic Labor schools which rose to prominence during the industrial unionization drives of the 1940s and 1950s. The Archdiocese of Boston created the Labor Guild in the early 1950s as a way for workers to learns about their rights on the job and better understand the intricacies of labor relations. Since its creation the Labor Guild has provided many services to the labor/management community including full semesters of labor education courses, neutral meeting spaces, supervising union elections and certifications, as well as networking and leadership opportunities.

Sister Cindy Rodrigues began her career at an early age working in the garment factories of Fall River. She quickly rose through the ranks of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textiles Workers Union (ACWTU), one of the NEJB’s predecessor unions, first as a shop steward and later as a Business Agent. Cindy was one of the first female Business Agents for the New England Regional Joint Board of ACTWU. Sister Rodrigues served as a Business Agent for 22 years organizing and servicing thousands of immigrant members in the Joint Board’s clothing, textile, and manufacturing shops. During her service to the union Sister Rodrigues experienced the mergers of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) to form the Union of Needletrades Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) in 1995 and the merger of UNITE with the Hotel and Restaurant Employees to form UNITE HERE in 2004. Cindy lived through the decline of the needletrades and textile industry and the merger of many Joint Boards and locals in the New England area to form what is today the New England Joint Board UNITE HERE. Cindy has also served in many capacities as an official of the Central Labor Councils of New Bedford/Cape Cod and Fall River which merged to form the Greater Southeastern Massachusetts Labor Council. Through her years she has also represented the New England Joint Board and the Central Labor Council on the board of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. Cindy is known as a fighter for labor in her community, a progressive voice for women and immigrant workers, and a caring and devoted friend, daughter, aunt, and wife.

Sister Rodrigues is a stalwart labor leader with the wisdom, tenacity, and resolve so typical of needletrades unionists. We are proud to call her our own and congratulate her on this very special award.

NEJB Announces 2017 Municipal and Special Election Endorsements

The New England Joint Board is proud to announce its endorsement of a group of candidates for elected public office who are committed to the values of our union. Once elected, these candidates will prioritize the issues important to working people and will stand strong against the attacks on the working class from wealthy corporate interests. Many of our endorsed candidates are themselves union members and two of them are NEJB members. Our endorsed candidates will lead their municipalities and districts towards a more progressive future.


  • Ed Charest (Chief Steward NEJB Local 431), Peabody City Council, Ward 4
  • Lydia Edwards (UAW Local 2320), Boston City Council, District 1
  • Michelle Wu, Boston City Council, At Large
  • Martin Walsh (LIUNA Local 223), City of Boston, Mayor
  • Daniel Rivera, City of Lawrence, Mayor
  • Tom McGee, City of Lynn, Mayor
  • Paul Feeney (IBEW Local 2222), State Senate, Bristol and Norfolk


  • Roger Gay (NEJB Local 406), Saco City Council, Ward 2


UNITE HERE Statement on DACA Termination

New York, NY – Donald Trump’s announcement today that Deferred Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) will be terminated in six months barring congressional intervention is an astounding act of political cowardice, and a missed opportunity to make a significant step towards comprehensive immigration reform. Donald Trump has passed the buck to Congress on what even he has acknowledged is a humanitarian crisis, because of his lack of political courage. Donald Trump, by failing to perform as a leader, has placed the fates of the 800,000 law abiding, tax-paying immigrant workers with DACA status in the hands of a dysfunctional Congress.

Textile Workers Picket Over Layoff Rule

Factory workers in Fair Haven Heights saved their pensions. Now they’re fighting for their jobs.

Nearly 100 unionized employees at the Lenox Street plant, which produces coated fabrics, are attempting to negotiate their first contract with a new boss. Trelleborg AB, a global engineering company headquartered in Sweden that employs 23,000 workers, acquired the factory from Uretek in November 2014.  (The New Haven plant also has 40 non-unionized employees.)

The new owners continued to operate under the three-year contract members of UNITE HERE Local 151 union had signed with Uretek. That agreement is set to expire next Friday, June 30. The parties have yet to come to an agreement about a key provision in what would be a new contract: when the company can initiate layoffs.

Unsure of their future, Duro workers picket in hopes of restoring jobs

FALL RIVER — The 157 workers laid off from Duro Textiles after their July vacation shut-down are still unsure of their fate.

“They say we’re one big family, but they left us high and dry,” said Erik Dopart, a maintenance mechanic for Duro for 31 years, and the local union president.
A group of workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 1208T and 1226T, started their Labor Day weekend by holding picket signs on Bay Street, between Duro’s facilities on Chace Street and Globe Mills Avenue, Friday morning.

Polartec is in trouble. Here’s a strategy that could save it

Its Polarfleece fabric, invented in 1979, was named one of the 20th Century’s Greatest Inventions by Time Magazine.But Polartecfaces an uncertain future. The company, then known as Malden Mills, grew rapidly in the 1980s and early 1990s as the US military and the world’s leading brands of outdoor, athletic, and aerobic apparel discovered Polartec fabric technology’s ability to achieve exceptional performance and style.

NEJB Stands in Solidarity with Striking Verizon Workers

The New England Joint Board UNITE HERE stands in solidarity with the 40,000 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America at Verizon in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region who have been on strike since mid-April.


After almost a year’s worth of negotiations Verizon has refused to offer workers a fair contract, instead demanding major concessions in job security and working conditions. Central to the dispute is Verizon’s plan to close customer service centers to offshore work to overseas call centers. This would eliminate stable union jobs that support strong communities. Additionally, Verizon is demanding that workers agree to work hundreds of miles away from their homes for as long as two months at a time placing an undue strain on families.


Verizon is responding viciously to the strike by hiring thousands of strike breakers enticing them with extremely high hourly wages and orchestrating a high profile public relations campaign to smear the efforts of the courageous strikers.


Our brothers and sisters with the IBEW and CWA are taking a brave step in confronting the flagrant greed of corporate America. In these times, when working people are being vilified, attacked, and denigrated, we must stand by our fellow workers and fight to protect the middle class and the jobs that support our families and communities. This is a battle for the very soul of our society. Do we allow corporations to erode our quality of life and continue to promote inequality, or do we fight for a better future where everyone has access to opportunity? The 10,000 members of the New England Joint Board are ready to stand beside our striking brothers and sisters for a more just and equal society.


The New England Joint Board calls on our 10,000 members to support our brothers and sisters who are on strike at Verizon by taking the pledge to not cross picket lines at Verizon Wireless stores:

These Workers Are Fighting To Keep Your North Face Jacket From Being Made for Poverty Wages

When Saudia Durrant approached the manager at an REI store in Manhattan earlier this month to explain that Polartec, the company that makes much of the fabric that REI uses in their products, was closing their flagship production facility in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the manager listened attentively.

“I let her know that we’re there to represent the Polartec workers [in Lawrence] who are organizing to put pressure on Polartec to have a conversation about keeping Polartec in Lawrence, Massachusetts,” Durant told In These Times.

Durrant, who works for UNITE HERE in New York, was one of over 100 union members, including a number of workers from the Lawrence plant, who approached management at REI stores in 21 cities across the country last Wednesday to draw attention to the closing of the historic textile mill.