West Virginia Casino Strike Drags on for Fourth Day

Chester, West Virginia (AP) — Workers walked the picket line at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort for a fourth day Tuesday, complaining that casino executives made empty promises about great-paying jobs.

The strike by 200 union cashiers, slot technicians and money room workers began early Saturday. No new talks are scheduled between the casino and Local 23 of the United Food & Commercial Workers, which remain far apart on wages and benefits.

Local 23 says Mountaineer, owned by MTR Gaming Group Inc., lags behind competitors in wages and benefits. The unit earns an average wage of just USD 9.34 an hour, with cashiers starting at USD 6.50.

„The company is making buckets of money, especially with the poker and gaming table revenue coming in,“ said union member Jo Ann Niemeyer. „After I pay my health care and other bills, I am left with USD 12 a week to spend. This is no way to live.“

Casino spokeswoman Tamara Pettit said Mountaineer is „willing and eager to go back to the table at any time without any conditions.“

She declined further comment on a two-page statement the union issued Tuesday afternoon.

In that statement, secretary-treasurer Tony Helfer said MTR claims that times are tough for the gaming industry, yet its top executives have contracts that guarantee pay, cost of living increases, paid vacation, health insurance and fringe benefits.

„Workers want the security of a contract, too — a contract that guarantees living wages and affordable health care to support their families,“ he said.