Labor Unions Rally Against Columbus Casino Delays

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More than a hundred union workers and their leaders rallied Tuesday at the site for the new Hollywood Casino on the west side of Columbus. Union officials say they’re concerned that on-going disputes between Columbus and Penn National Gaming, the casino’s owner, will hold up construction.

A few idle pieces of earth moving equipment were the backdrop for the rally which featured leaders from several local unions. Some seemed worried, even angry, that construction might fall behind schedule.

“There’s one main concern that we’re here for today and that’s jobs, jobs, jobs!”

That’s Mike Kelly of the local plumbers and pipefitters union. Altogether some 3,500 unionized workers would be involved in constructing the casino. But disputes over annexation into the city and water and sewer service have led to litigation. That’s something that Kelly says he’d like to see come to an end.

“Get out of the courtroom get into the board room, let’s negotiate and get the shovels in the ground,” Kelly said.

Walter Workman, executive director of the AFL-CIO’s Central Ohio Labor Council, had a message of his own for Mayor Michael Coleman.

“We’re out here today to tell the mayor and the rest of the city officials that it’s time to get serious if they’re talking about creating jobs,” said Workman.

“To those who are trying to hold up this project, I think you need to mind your own business because the voters of Ohio have spoken,” Workman said.

Backers of the casino say it will employ about 2,000 workers once it opens to the public.

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