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Hundreds rallied in South Florida on Tuesday in support of the 'Mardi Gras 10', workers who were fired from Mardi Gras Casinos for labor organizing. About 350 activists marched in heavy rain to the entrance of the casino, where 26 sat and blocked the entrance, leading to their arrests. Almost all of the protesters were released by Wednesday afternoon.
Unite Here!, the hospitality union trying to organize workers at the casino, bused in unionworkers from theFort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airportand other work places where it has members.
Marchers gathered at a park west of the casino but moved inside St. Ann's Episcopal Church when the rain began. Once inside, clergy and community leaders spoke of the less privileged and led in singing of the freedom anthem, "We Shall Overcome."
Among those speaking during the 45-minute rally was Teresa Muse, a slot attendant who was fired in November for her union organizing efforts..
"I need my job," she said. "I have a car note, no health insurance and four herniated discs"
After the speeches, United Here! Handed out signs and the marchers walked along Pembroke Road to the casino parking lot, where 26 of the protesters sat on the ground until they were arrested.
The National Labor Relat;ions Board has filed a formal complaint against the casino:
Following a thorough, four-month investigation, the National Labor Relations Board’s counsel in Miami has filed a formal complaint against the operators of the Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale, Florida. The complaint comes after 10 workers who were leaders of a union organizing drive were fired in November 2011.
The complaint asserts, among other things, that management interrogated its employees about their union involvement and their coworkers’ union involvement and threatened employees with termination and other retaliations if they were to join the union. Further, the complaint charges that the operators of Mardi Gras Casino created the impression that employees were under surveillance and management implied promised benefits to employees who “refrained from engaging in union activities.”
As one of the proposed remedies, the Board’s General Counsel is also seeking an Order requiring that the 10 workers fired last November during the beginnings of an organizing drive receive full back pay. Mardi Gras must respond to this complaint on or before May 14, 2012.
"This is a huge victory for me personally, for our organizing at Mardi Gras, and for any worker who is strong enough to stand up for what she believes," said Tashana McKenzie, a slot attendant who is one of those workers whom NLRB Counsel says was illegally fired at the casino. “This is also a victory for the thousands of our supporters across the country.”
The 10 workers were fired last November shortly after workers at the casino started to organize to join UNITE HERE, a union that represents more than 150,000 gaming and hospitality workers across the country. Workers have rallied community support around the region through a Facebook page, "Bring Back the Mardi Gras 10.”
Casino president Richard Adkins isn't backing down:
"We categorically deny every single charge that's in the complaint from the NLRB," Adkins said.
He also said that he wouldn't talk about the story more, but he said “my attorneys are handling it.”
The Mardi Gras 10 can be supported on Facebook.