- Creighton Smith
- Fired from the Double Eagle in Cripple Creek more than two years ago for talking union, Betty Ingerling now tends to the slot machines at the Gold Rush.
The National Labor Relations Board has ordered one of Cripple Creek's largest casinos to offer a fired employee her job back with back pay stemming from an unsuccessful union organizing campaign two and a half years ago.
However, the Double Eagle Casino is appealing the ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Waged by Colorado Springs-based International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 113, the October 2001 organizing campaign fell apart shortly after pro-union worker Betty Ingerling was fired and two others suspended for discussing their tips on the casino floor.
The Double Eagle's confidentiality rule forbids employees from talking about wages and working conditions anywhere on company property.
The National Labor Relations Board -- the federal agency that mediates between unions and employers -- ruled that the casino's policy violated workers rights to freely associate and organize a union.
As part of the ruling, the casino was ordered to rescind its confidentiality rule, in addition to taking other "corrective measures," including posting a list detailing its labor law violations in the employee lunchroom.
Two weeks ago, Michael Smith, president of the Double Eagle, said the company was weighing their legal options; the casino has since appealed the decision in the 10th Circuit Court. Lisa Gallegos, case manager for the court, said a final ruling could take anywhere from three months to a year. "There's not going to be a decision anytime soon," she said.
The Double Eagle, which employs more than 200 workers, is not the first Colorado casino to see a union campaign come and go. In 1999, Teamsters Local 537 failed in its effort to organize workers at the Midnight Rose and J.P. McGill's casinos in Cripple Creek. In those cases, the National Labor Relations Board also found that management violated labor laws through illegal intimidation tactics; however the campaigns ultimately proved unsuccessful.
As for Ingerling, the former Double Eagle employee said she's now happily employed at another casino, the Gold Rush -- which is also a nonunion shop.
-- John Dicker