January 24, 2014 09:02AM
By MICHAEL MELIA
HARTFORD — Foxwoods Resort Casino, which has been struggling to reverse a decline in gambling revenue, is eliminating the jobs of 120 table game dealers and five supervisors, the workers’ union said Thursday.
The casino will first seek volunteers to accept buyouts and wants the layoffs to be completed by March 1, said Billy Shea, president of Local 2121 of the United Auto Workers. He said he was not surprised by word of the layoffs in light of the casino’s slump.
“We’ve known for a while this was going to come down,” Shea said. “It was quite obvious and apparent the company had no choice. The business is down.”
Foxwoods, one of the largest casinos in the Western Hemisphere, is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and employs about 8,000 people. It generated more than $1 billion in revenue last year but fell short of its own projections as it contends with the weak U.S. economic recovery and growing competition in neighboring states.
Foxwoods spokeswoman Dale Wolbrink declined to comment on the layoffs. “We don’t discuss anything that has to do with our team members,” she said.
In its notice to the union members, Foxwoods said it was “forced to make difficult decisions in the wake of increased competition, a historically difficult economic environment, and the overall suppressed gaming market.”
Management informed the union that it also will cut five assistant floor supervisors in addition to the full-time dealers, Shea said.
In its notice, Foxwoods offered buyout packages of two weeks’ pay for every full year of service up to a maximum of 26 weeks. “If volunteers for severance do not produce the requisite numbers, involuntary severances will occur,” the notice said.
Shead said the union, which represents about 1,800 Foxwoods employees, is pursuing more generous buyout packages from the casino.
“I feel so badly for the people that are going to be affected,” Shea said. “This is going to affect a lot of people.”
He said workers with the most seniority won’t be affected.
Foxwoods, which opened in 1992, once dominated the regional gambling market along with its giant neighbor, Mohegan Sun. They have faced new competition from casinos in the New York City area and the arrival of table games at Rhode Island’s Twin Rivers Casino. There’s also a plan in the works to allow three casinos in Massachusetts.