Unions: Let Foxwoods have its license back, we need the jobs

Two local labor unions say the gaming board should reconsider its decision to revoke Foxwoods’ license, because the project would bring needed jobs.

Leaders from the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL—CIO and the Metropolitan Regional Council of Philadelphia & Vicinity of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, issued a statement saying that Foxwoods’ delays can be attributed largely to the downturn in the economy – the same downturn that would make the jobs that would come from building the casino most welcome.

“While we understand that there had been delay in getting the Foxwoods project up to speed, a lot of the causes of that delay were due to the downturn in the economy and the gaming industry,” said Pat Gillespie, Business Manager of The Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council.  “When (Philadelphia Entertainment Development Partners), together with Caesars Entertainment, a known commodity to the Pennsylvania Gaming Board, and the gaming industry internationally, presented their deal documents to the Gaming Board last month we had fully expected the Board and its staff to immediately sit down with them and work through any issues or details for the transaction, which we understand is complicated. Regretfully, this did not happen, but hopefully with this latest filing the Board will reconsider and do the right thing by the citizens and taxpayers of Philadelphia,” he added.

The 650-plus construction jobs the project would create and the roughly 1,000 employees the casino would eventually put to work could not come at a more needed time, Gillespie said. The city also needs the tax revenue, he said in a printed statement. And a successful project could also “lead to further development of the entire Delaware Avenue thoroughfare, which will result in further jobs and tax revenues, which will serve to bolster local employment and the economy,” the Building and Construction Trades press release states.

The economy has been tough on carpenters and joiners, too, said Edward C. Coryell, Executive Secretary/Treasurer and Business Manager of the Metropolitan Regional Council of Philadelphia & Vicinity of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. “Given that our hours worked have declined 40%, the cost of health care rising 12% per year, and families struggling, we hope that the Gaming Board appreciates the substantial benefits resulting from the serious commitment which was made by PEDP and Caesars last Friday.  Our members, the City, and the Commonwealth need this valuable project and the resulting development it will create,” he said in a written statement.

“I am also impressed, notwithstanding the difficulties that they have had, and the negative reception that the project has been given by the community, that PEDP and Caesars have re-affirmed their commitment to charity and the needs of our children. This project is a win-win for everyone and I hope the Gaming Board realizes that it makes immensely better sense for them to listen to and to work with PEDP and Caesars on this important project, than to revoke PEDP’s license and then have years of litigation and further delay.”

Contact the reporter at kgates@planphilly.com

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