Foxwoods union vote objection hearings begin

Erica Jacobson

Just how many Foxwoods Resort Casino dealers knew how little English was at the heart of the opening statements this morning by attorneys for the Mashantucket Pequot tribal nation, the regional offices of the National Labor Relation Board and the United Automobile Aerospace and Agriculture Implement Workers of America during hearings at the board's Hartford offices.

Of the 2,619 dealers who were eligible to vote in the Nov. 24 organizing effort, 742 identified themselves as Asian or Pacific Islander, according to Richard Hankins, an Atlanta-based attorney for the Mashantuckets and their gaming enterprise which runs Foxwoods. He said the failure by the labor board to have ballots in written Chinese "deprived workers of their right to a due election."

Thomas Mieklejohn, an attorney for the UAW, said that argument was a multicultural distortion.

“In order to perform their jobs as dealers," he said, "the employees are required to understand a very complex set of very specific rules for each of the games dealt to customers of the casino.”

Dealers are taught those rules in English, Mieklejohn said.

Language expert witnesses are expected to testify this afternoon.