Casino Workers Scared To Return Without Health Care, Safety Standards

May 16, 2020

Casino workers hold signs from their cars in downtown Indianapolis.
Credit (Alan Mbathi/IPB News)

Employees from five casinos rallied in Indianapolis Friday, forming a “car caravan” around the Statehouse and Monument Circle. They urged lawmakers not to allow casinos to reopen until they’re given affordable health care and can ensure safety.

Caesars notified employees they plan to reopen at limited capacity the week of June 14. Representatives from the Unite Here labor union say casinos are non-essential and that the state wants them to reopen soon to collect tax revenue. Meanwhile, many workers say low wages and high health insurance deductibles force them to choose between health and livelihood when they fall ill. 

Taylor Cox is a bartender at the Indiana Grand Racing and Casino. He says in order to have a truly COVID-19 safe casino, employees need to have access to affordable health care and enforceable safety standards. 

“There’s a lot of coworkers of mine that have compromised immune systems and have a lot of health issues,” he says. “So going to work in a place where the likelihood of exposure is pretty significant is very scary.” 

The labor union and Caesars Entertainment began contract negotiations just before the governor issued his “Stay-At-Home” order.