Labor Agreement Reached for Casino Contractors

Wed July 16, 2003 - National Edition

SANFORD (AP) If Maine’s Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes get permission to run a casino, the electricians, pipe fitters and laborers who build it will receive wages determined by both the developer and a council of labor unions.

The tribes announced recently that a project labor agreement has been reached between the Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council and Marnell Corrao Associates, a Las Vegas developer.

It was a significant announcement because of the scope of the project and the number of jobs at stake.

The Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes hope to win voters’ approval in November to build and operate a $650-million casino resort in Sanford.

The project will create an estimated 2,000 construction jobs each year of the two-year project.

The project labor agreement does not mandate that only union workers be employed during construction. It requires any contractor bidding on the project to abide by the agreement terms.

Workers are expected to receive from $14 to $25 per hour, depending on the job performed and skill level. The contract also provides workers with full family health care benefits, with no employee contribution.

The agreement sets out the length of work days, overtime rates, holidays and days off. The unions agree that no strikes or slowdowns will occur, and Marnell agrees that it won’t lock workers out.

Although union shops are celebrating, the inking of the agreement has cost the tribes the support of many of the state’s construction companies that run open, “merit,” shops.

The Maine chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., which represents 150 nonunion construction and construction firms, announced its opposition last month to a casino built under a project labor agreement.

Since Maine tribes do not fall under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the state is not required to negotiate with them about opening a casino. The two tribes fall under the 1980 Maine Land Claims Settlement Act.

The tribes must still get necessary approvals from Sanford and state regulatory agencies.