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Area UAW unit seeks to represent casino workers in Atlantic City

The United Auto Workers' regional unit based in Cheektowaga is in a fight to represent casino workers, not in Niagara Falls, but in Atlantic City.

The UAW has won two elections to represent New Jersey casino workers, a rare win for labor in the fast-growing industry.

Dealers at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino voted 324-149 to join the UAW on March 31. That win followed an earlier victory March 17 at the Caesars Atlantic City casino. Dealers there voted 572-128 for unionization.

UAW Region 9, based in Cheektowaga, includes New Jersey and Pennsylvania as well as New York.

"We're ready to work with the Trump Plaza dealers as they elect their bargaining committee and prepare for negotiations," UAW Region 9 Director Joe Ashton said in a statement.

But on Monday, the parent company of casinos bearing Donald Trump's name moved to block the results of the vote at Trump Plaza. Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. filed an objection with the National Labor Relations Board seeking to set aside the results of a March 31 election.

Trump Plaza's challenge centers on a March 25 rally in which the union, U.S. Rep. Robert Andrews, D-N.J., and other politicians counted union pledge cards signed by dealers.

The UAW's national offices were closed Monday, and union officials did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment on the Trump challenge.

Trump Plaza claims the union wrongly represented to voters that the labor board supported the union in the election, and that the rally gave the false impression that the union was already the certified representative of dealers before the election.

Those actions "destroyed the laboratory conditions necessary for a free and fair election," Trump Plaza asserted in papers filed with the board.

The company asked the labor board to set aside the results of the vote and order a new election "so that employees are permitted the opportunity to exercise their rights to make a free and uncoerced decision as to whether they desire to be represented by the union."

The board gave no timetable for ruling on the objection.

The UAW is also seeking an election to establish a union at another Trump property, Trump Marina Hotel Casino.

The UAW, which represents workers at three Detroit casinos, has been among a number of unions that have considered organizing drives at the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls. The Teamsters mounted a drive there that fizzled in 2005.

e-mail: fwilliams@buffnews.com

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