Encore strike off after settlement

By Devin O’Connor

Encore Casino. (Photo by Joe Resnek)

Encore Boston Harbor employees represented by the Local 26 chapter of Unite Here last week voted to authorize a strike at the $2.6 billion integrated resort. That would have happened as early as July 1 unless a new collective bargaining agreement was reached. Union officials said 98% of the votes cast were in favor of authorizing a walkout should Wynn Resorts not meet the trade group’s demands for a “five-star contract.”

Union reps announced Thursday morning that such an arrangement has been tentatively reached.

“Our bargaining committee is happy to report that this agreement achieves our goals of reaching a five-star contract equal to or better than the union standard at hospitality employers in Boston,” said Local 26 president Carlos Aramayo. “I am also happy that Encore Boston Harbor did the right thing by bargaining an agreement that guarantees jobs at the casino will be excellent jobs.”

Encore Boston Harbor is the richest casino in Massachusetts in terms of annual gross gaming revenue (GGR). The casino won nearly $729.7 million off gamblers in 2022. MGM Springfield was a distant second at $259.1 million.

Unite Here Local 26 agreed to a temporary contract with Wynn Resorts for Encore Boston Harbor during the COVID-19 pandemic that saw workers’ wages set slightly below union contracts in place elsewhere in Boston.

The current contract sets the minimum rate for union members at about $25 an hour. The Boston Globe reports the pay rate is $2 less than unionized workers at similar resort hotels in the region.

Tipped employees such as servers are paid a minimum of $8 per hour, significantly less than other tipped union workers in Boston.

While neither the union nor Wynn Resorts commented on specifics of the tentative agreement, it’s expected that the new terms bring Encore Boston Harbor employees in line with similar union contracts.

Wynn spokesperson Michael Weaver said it’s part of the company’s culture to provide strong, livable wages to its employees.

“Our company is built on the fundamental philosophy that only talented and empowered employees, working in an environment in which they feel valued and well compensated, can deliver our signature Wynn and Encore guest experiences,” Weaver said.

“Therefore, we are very pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with Unite Here Local 26 and Teamsters Local 25 that fulfills our company’s goal of providing outstanding benefits and overall compensation, among the highest for our industry in the state of Massachusetts.”

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