On June 28, St. Louis’s casino operator, Pinnacle, will close its President Casino for good, and the Company says it intends to lay off all 220 employees, despite the fact that it is hiring at its two other St. Louis casinos, Lumiere and River City.
Many of the affected workers have been at the President for a decade or more. Workers at the President are asking for a chance to transfer to Lumiere Place or River City, and all want the Company to keep a promise to provide retention bonuses to those who agreed to stay on to keep the casino running.
Community Responsibility Negotiations between the Company and UNITE HERE Local 74, which represents certain President employees, began on May 11. But so far Pinnacle refuses to allow priority hiring rights or severance.
Myron Minner has worked security at the President since the year it opened. Like many of his experienced co-workers, he hasn’t been offered another position at Lumiere or River City. Myron explains, “I’m in my 16th year working at the President and we’ve been told by Pinnacle that we don’t have experience and that’s ridiculous.” Instead of providing transfers, Pinnacle is offering job training classes and workshops on interviewing and resume writing to experienced employees.
Employees are left wondering if Pinnacle genuinely thinks they need more training after working in the casino industry for years, or if the classes are meant to cover up the Company’s apparent preference for hiring younger workers. “We’ve been mistreated.”
Laid off workers don’t know how long they will be able to continue paying their rent and mortgage notes or if they will be able to send their children to college.
A longtime resident of the City of St. Louis, Vanessa Lavington has worked in housekeeping at the President for 15 years. Vanessa is also a grandmother and supports her both her daughter and grandchildren with her paycheck. After June 28, she doesn’t know what will happen to her family. Vanessa is asking for a fair chance at another job. Vanessa says, “We deserve more than just sending us out the door. We are asking the Company to do the right thing.” “We are asking the Company to do the right thing.”
Our families, neighborhoods, and the City of St. Louis are struggling in the current economic recession. Meanwhile, successful companies like Pinnacle seem to be using the economic downturn to avoid taking responsibility. Pinnacle reported $76.7 million in revenue from its St. Louis properties in the first quarter of 2010. That’s up nearly 30% from the same quarter last year. Pinnacle can do the right thing. They are hiring at Lumiere Place and River City, right here in St. Louis. They must offer job transfers to their loyal, experienced workers.