SEIU Local 2

SEIU Local 2

May 01, 2012 07:22 ET

FELRC's Proposed Plan Will Keep Slots Jobs at Fort Erie Race Track, Says SEIU Local 2

Fort Erie holds vigil last night before today's meeting with the OLG

FORT ERIE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 1, 2012) - The Service Employees International Union Local 2 is fully behind a business plan proposed by the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium (FELRC) that would keep good jobs in Fort Erie. Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin was amongst the hundreds who gathered at the track last night for a vigil to show the community's support for the FELRC plan.

"We've already shown we could save live racing jobs and we can do it again when it comes to running the Slots," said Mayor Martin.

On March 14th the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) announced that it would close the Slots at racetracks in Windsor, Fort Erie and Sarnia effective April 30th. The closure of the slots is resulting in enormous job losses in these predominantly manufacturing-based communities already hit hard by unemployment.

Randy Volzke, a Food and Beverage employee at the Fort Erie Race Track for 21 years says there is much dismay with the provincial government's decision to close the slots at Fort Erie Race Track. "Single mothers are going to have to go on welfare, some are worried they'll lose their cars because they can't make payments and some people who have mortgages are worried they may lose their homes," says Volzke, a member of SEIU Local 2. "It's brutal."

But now there is hope the jobs can be retained at the tracks. The FELRC - the community-based, non-profit group that has successfully run the track for the past 3 years - has announced it has a plan to save the Slots in an effort to keep these important jobs in the community. Last week, the OLG agreed to meet with them to talk about the proposed local takeover. That meeting is to take place today.

"There is an enormous outpouring of community support and optimism for this innovative plan" says Ted Mansell, the Executive Vice President of the SEIU Local 2. "The racetrack is the town's largest employer and as such, the people of Fort Erie are depending on these good jobs, including the Slots, to support their families and sustain the local economy."

Because of its unique community-owned, non-profit nature, every dollar of earnings gets fully reinvested back into the operation to continually grow the business for the sole purpose of sustaining good jobs in the local economy. In essence, it is a financially self-supporting, community-owned investment that pays jobs dividends back to the community. Other equally-vulnerable communities with racetracks could learn a valuable lesson from this successful business model.

SEIU represents over 225 unionized workers at the track in all facets of the racetrack operation including approximately 100 Food and Beverage workers, with almost 80 F&B workers losing their jobs when the doors to the Slots closed last night.

According to their proposed business plan, the FELRC believes that an integrated Slot and horse race operation at Fort Erie could be a sustainable business with a dedicated and focused local management group. Under the plan the FELRC, with co-operation from the OLG, would assume responsibility for the Slots immediately in order to maintain slot operations in the facility and transition the facility in an orderly manner.

The Service Employees International Union is the largest and fastest growing union in North America, with 100,000 workers in Canada and over two million workers across Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico.

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