‘We Have No Choice’: What One Encore Boston Harbor Worker Says About Strike Vote

Written By Dan Holmes on June 20, 2023 - Last Updated on June 21, 2023
Encore Boston Harbor employees set to hold strike vote on Wednesday, from playma.com

Workers at Encore Boston Harbor will vote on Wednesday whether to authorize a strike. If it is authorized, a deadline will be set on Thursday, June 22.

Workers at the resort are seeking better wages, improved benefits and working conditions. The roughly 1,400 employees are represented by UNITE HERE Local 26.

If authorized, this would be the first organized walkout for one of the Massachusetts casinos.

Encore Boston Harbor strike vote details

The strike vote will be held at Teamsters Local 25, at 544 Main Street, in Charlestown, on Wednesday, June 21, from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

According to UNITE HERE Local 26 representatives, if the union authorizes a strike and the deadline passes without a deal, workers will walk out and they will form picket lines 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In addition, Teamster drivers have pledged to not cross the picket lines at EBH to deliver licensed liquor, food and other essential items to the casino.

‘We have no choice’

Ritza Mendieta came to the US in the 1980s from Honduras. She was hired as a housekeeper in 2018, months before EBH opened in Everett. She has witnessed the gap between what Encore Boston Harbor purports to be, and how they treat employees.

“I like my job. I love to do my job,” Mendieta told PlayMA in an exclusive interview. “But Encore is very difficult. We have big rooms, they expect top-flight service, they expect the best from us. (This) is a five-star hotel. We deserve a five-star contract.”

An America citizen, Mendieta has three generations in her household: Herself, her kids and her mother. She is responsible to help all of them, and she says she struggles under what she calls below-standard wages that EBH offers.

There are other employees like her. Many of Ritza’s co-workers are Spanish-speaking, who have come to this country for job opportunities like these. But the pay has not been competitive, the union says.

“Most of my coworkers are from different countries, and they support their moms and brothers,” Mendieta said. “We don’t want to go to strike, but we have no choice. We have to do it for five-star benefits and job securities.”

Workers earning less than at other facilities

The union, which announced its intentions to hold a strike vote in late May, said in a statement: “Encore Boston Harbor is a Forbes Five-Star luxury resort that promised to bring good-paying jobs to the residents of Everett and surrounding towns. In 2022, EBH had the second-highest revenue among casinos outside of Nevada, but workers’ wages and benefits are not keeping up with the increased cost of living in greater Boston.”

Mendieta points out that she has friends who work for other resorts in the Boston area who are being paid better than what she makes at EBH, even though Encore is a venue experiencing great financial success.

“Why do other properties in Boston have better pay than us?” Mendieta said. “If they are five-star, why are they not giving us a five-star contract, with five-star wages? If every other hotel is doing the same, why are they not doing that if they care about us?”

Along with its labor problems, EBH is currently struggling to gain support for an expansion project. In two public hearings on a proposed expansion of the EBH site in Everett, community members and EBH workers have expressed frustration at the way Encore has managed its business in the nearly five years since it opened.

Who are UNITE HERE Local 26 members?

Members of UNITE HERE Local 26 at Encore Boston Harbor include room attendants, cocktail servers, bar porters, cooks, dishwashers, public area cleaners and drivers who also belong to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 25. They are seeking wages that match industry standards, improved benefits and a better attendance policy.

Some of the workers at Encore Boston Harbor are immigrants who have become US citizens and were promised fair wages when EBH proposed the casino more than five years ago.

Encore Boston Harbor is a luxury hotel resort and casino that opened in 2019. The collective bargaining agreement between the union and Encore Boston Harbor, which is owned and operated by Wynn Resorts, expired in April.

Photo by AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
Dan Holmes Avatar
Written by
Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a Staff Writer for PlayMA with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He also has extensive experience covering the launch of sports betting in other states, including Ohio and Maryland. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

View all posts by Dan Holmes
Privacy Policy