Twin River employees authorize strike

Photo: Andy Paskowski/WPRI-TV

LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) – A group of Twin River employees voted 327-5 to authorize a strike against the casino Wednesday.

Hundreds of cocktail servers, cooks and other food and beverage workers that are members of the UNITE HERE local 26 union will officially walk out if they can’t reach a deal with the casino by 4 a.m. Friday. Many of the workers who plan to strike complain that health insurance benefits, which came into effect on January 1, have been reduced.

“If I were to put me and my daughter on Twin River’s health care, it would cost us $1,200 a month – as much as rent or a mortgage,” said beverage server Alexis Maciel.

The union says the reduced benefits come during a period of rising revenue for the casino. They also allege that the state has repeatedly passed laws which aim to increase the casino’s revenue and that Twin River gave its stockholders a $20 million buyback last year.

Patti Doyle, a spokesperson for Twin River, said the casino is looking to hire new employees and doesn’t expect any disruption for its patrons.

“We were aware in advance of the possible strike action by a subset of Twin River Casino employees. We have prepared for this eventuality and expect no interruption in the food, beverage and gaming service we intend to provide our customers this weekend,” said Doyle. “That said, we also have placed ads in local publications for positions in our food and beverage departments. We have immediate openings, and offer highly competitive wages and benefits.”

Contract negotiations between workers and the casino started in February.