COARSEGOLD – Nearly a year after its closure following an armed incident that led to 15 arrests and a closure order from a federal court, Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino is expected to reopen in the next few weeks, according to new Chief Operating Officer Christian Goode.
While no specific date has been announced for reopening, Goode says some employees are returning to the departments in which they worked before the shutdown, and many positions are opening up for enthusiastic new hires interested in working at the popular venue.
“The casino is expected to open in three or four weeks or even less,” says Goode. “We are in the reopening process: it’s coming together and we are accepting applications now. It’s a new day at Chukchansi Resort and Casino and we’re taking all comers. We’re looking for energetic people who have worked in the hospitality industry before, as well as those who are looking to make a transition into the business.”
On Aug. 12, the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians announced that it had reached a comprehensive Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with UNITE Here, the world’s largest union representing casino workers, and Local 19, to restore nearly 700 jobs that were lost when the casino abruptly closed in 2014, and would guarantee good paying jobs and benefits for those employees.
“Some jobs have been eliminated, reassigned or redefined,” Good says. “We are in the process of recalling all employees, not just Union employees. We still expect to have 1,000 employees more or less when we reopen.”
According to a press release from the Tribe, “the CBA calls for long term stability as the agreement is for a period of 5 years and provides for wages to increase during the term of the agreement. Specifically, employees will receive annual salary increases that exceed the rate of inflation as well as access to low cost, high quality health, dental and vision benefits. This agreement will guarantee that Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino will once again inject some much needed economic vitality into the region.”
Goode says the casino has been working with the National Indian Gaming Commission to meet regulations and security requirements, and putting the necessary mechanisms in place for a successful reopening.
“From the moment we set out to restore the casino, our first order of business was to take care of all our displaced employees who were the innocent victims of last year’s closure,” said Goode. “We have taken an important step forward by establishing a new deal with our employees. This is just the beginning of the economic benefits we expect to bring to the entire region, and it starts with making sure our employees are taken care of financially and have access to quality benefits.”
The best way to apply is online, where the casino is accepting applications in real time, says Goode. There are 38 different job titles listed on the Chukchansi website, from dealers to graphic designers, chefs, room attendants and supervisory positions.
“We are looking for quality team members to make the resort experience better than anything else,” says Goode. “We have polished and cleaned and updated the gaming product, and we’re looking forward to welcoming our guests back to this world class property.”
Goode says they’re excited that people will be back to work in the area, that the property is in great shape and the “gaming product will be fresh. We’ll have all the latest and greatest gaming projects on the floor, including Wheel of Fortune, Aristocrat and Konami, and it should be excellent.”
Enrique Fernandez of UNITE Here Local 19 is also optimistic.
“It’s a new day at Chukchansi, new management, and a new approach. The wages and benefits our Chukchansi members will receive signify the tribe’s and casino’s commitment to their employees. We look forward to this new partnership. We hope to replicate the new Chukchansi model for negotiating partners in other casinos across the state.”
Tribal Chairman, Reggie Lewis is also extremely pleased with the developments.
“These are just the next steps on our journey to provide our Tribal members with opportunity and economic stability that will pave the way to self-sufficiency for generations,” said Lewis. “We are very excited that we have Union partners who will work with us to provide great jobs to our best-in-the-business employees.”
New COO Christian Goode most recently ran the North American operations for the Genting Group, which operates and markets casinos and resorts all over the world. He has also worked as a consultant to Native American tribes across the country.
The Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino was closed down on Oct. 10, 2014, after an attempted armed takeover by one of the factions claiming to be the rightful leadership of the tribe. Fifteen men were arrested following the Oct. 9 incident, and charged with an array of crimes from assault to kidnapping.
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