Labor Union Threatens Lawsuit Over Petersburg Casino Operator Selection Process


In a dramatic twist of events, the Unite Here Local 25 labor union, representing members working in casinos, hotels, and restaurants in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, has issued a threat of lawsuit against the Petersburg City Council. The dispute arises over the council’s decision to select The Cordish Companies as the preferred operator for a potential casino development.

The crux of the issue revolves around a perceived lack of transparency by the Petersburg City Council during the selection process. Unite Here Local 25 alleges that the council violated the state’s Freedom of Information Act during its review of applications for the proposed resort project.

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Evident is a growing wave of discontent among councilmembers and the public who view the local government’s decision as a covert act. They suspect that the council, behind closed doors, favored Cordish, a nationally recognized operator renowned for its Live! casinos, hospitality, and mixed-use development ventures. The burgeoning concerns over transparency has caused Unite Here Local 25 to demand a full disclosure detailing the council’s decision-making process.

“The actions by the City of Petersburg reflect a shocking dishonor to the law and democratic norms,” said Local 25 Political Director, Sam Epps. He argues that the city initiated a competitive Request for Proposal before proceeding with what was expected to be a transparent and fair selection process. “But seemingly, the City Council resorted to a closed session to deliberate on the choice of the casino operator, thus subverting the right of the residents of Petersburg to open governance,” Epps lamented.

If the council rejects the union’s demand for full disclosure of all related documents, a lawsuit may inevitably ensue.

Six responses were fielded through Petersburg’s casino RFP, with interest from Cordish, Bally’s, Rush Street Gaming, Penn Entertainment, Delaware North, and The Warrenton Group. However, many were astounded when the council preposterously proclaimed Cordish as the victor during the preliminary stages of the bidding process.

It has been uncovered that the seven Petersburg councilors had initially selected Bally’s as the preferred operator – a draft Letter of Intent identifying Bally’s was even prepared, but never sent to the Rhode Island-based casino firm.

Cordish has had a troubling history with labor unions, and Unite Here alleges the Baltimore-based firm to be obstructionist toward unionizing efforts at its casinos and entertainment districts.

Yet, Unite Here’s threatened lawsuit isn’t merely about the strife with Cordish. Rather, it condemns the city’s alleged lapses in transparency and claimed violations of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. The city council’s abrupt exit from the Petersburg Public Library, following the announcement of Cordish as the winner, without addressing media queries or providing clarity on the decision-making process, only reinforced these concerns of irregularities.

Taking center stage in this unfolding saga is not just the selection of a casino operator, but a fight for transparency, a respect for democratic norms, and a longing for open governance. As the story develops, the residents of Petersburg, alongside Unite Here Local 25, eagerly await an open and transparent resolution.