Vernon casino workers win in labour decision

The union is certified to represent a bargaining unit consisting of all surveillance operators at Cascade Casino in Penticton and Lake City Casino in Vernon, employed by Gateway Casinos andEntertainment Ltd.

A handful of unionized workers at a Vernon casino have scored a victory with the B.C. Labour Relations Board.

The labour board has dismissed objections and opposition from the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPEU) Local 378 over an application made by certain employees at Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd. – which operates Lake City Casino on Anderson Way – to vary the bargaining unit by deleting all employees performing surveillance operator work in Vernon.

The union is certified to represent a bargaining unit consisting of all surveillance operators at Cascade Casino in Penticton and Lake City Casino in Vernon, employed by Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd.

Surveillance operators monitor the gaming activities, financial controls and other activities in the casino.

The union says there are 10 bargaining unit employees in Vernon and 11 in Penticton.

The Vernon employees are seeking partial decertification.

“If our group (Vernon group only) leaves the collective agreement, it would not adversely affect the Penticton site as we are totally separate surveillance units under separate management,” said the employees.

“We do not work together or transfer site to site.”

Employees don’t believe there would be a destabilzing effect for the remaining employees at the Penticton site, “due to the fact they were in the union prior to our participation and were able to successfully bargain on their own at that time.”

Decertification, they say, would not affect transfers or career advancements outside the union.

The union countered saying partial decertification for the group remaining, “would be profound, and outweighs the wishes of the group seeking partial decertification.”

They also said such a move would diminish collective bargaining rights such as the ability to accrue bargaining unit-wide seniority, preferential selection in applying for postings in Vernon and bumping and recall into Vernon positions, as well as the potential to impact on the ability to exert economic pressure on the employer in bargaining.

The union also accused a surveillance operator manager of improper interference in regards to the matter.

The employer denied the allegation, and board acting registrar Koml Kandola said the union did not establish improper interference.

Vernon surveillance operators became included in certification with Penticton in March 2013. A collective bargaining agreement covering both locations was reached in September 2015. It expires May 31, 2018.

A similar application for partial decertification involving the same parties was filed in November 2015. The union objected with similar objections (though not a case of improper interference) and the board dismissed the union’s objections in that instance as well.

The 2015 application was unsuccessful.

The employees expressed dissatisfaction with the union’s representation and conduct.

They say after receiving the votes of the 2015 application, they intended to try again for partial decertification at another time when able to do so. They say the union made various improper efforts to try to dissuade employees from supporting partial decertification.

Kandola ordered the ballot box of the latest partial decertification vote to be unsealed and the ballots counted.

Results are unknown.

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