Morning Report: The Push to Unionize Sycuan

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Morning Report: The Push to Unionize Sycuan

Sycuan Casino / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The pandemic isn’t the only major disruption the Sycuan Resort & Casino has experienced as of late. 

Since 2019, some of its employees have been attempting to form a union, a development that has largely flown under the radar but that could have major implications for other tribal casinos in California.

In a new story, VOSD contributor Jackie Bryant explores how the effort has gone so far and the big tensions it has provoked between the casino and workers. Sycuan has required employees to attend meetings during work hours run by consultants the Crossroads Group to tell them why they should reject the move.

A spokesman and a manager for Sycuan acknowledged workers have complained about facing sexual harassment from guests, that promised bonuses were later rescinded and that some pregnant workers had to serve in smoking sections of the casino. But Adam Day, the chief administrative officer for the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, said the tribe remains committed to providing a safe and supportive work environment.

The workers who support the union push are working with UNITE HERE Local 30, which represents local hospitality workers. 

The push is in limbo as the two parties wait for an appellate court to weigh in.

“The case is currently before the 9th Circuit, which will ultimately determine whether federal or tribal law has jurisdiction over labor relations at tribal casinos,” Bryant reports.

Related: “The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Wednesday to repeal policies that basically stopped any expansion by Native American tribal governments, along with strict criteria to obtain a liquor license,” wrote City News Service.

Speaking of Union Organizing …

VOSD’s Will Huntsberry recently broke the news that employees at one of the region’s largest charter school networks, High Tech High, are close to forming a union.

Now, the Union-Tribune reports that High Tech High fired one of the teachers who was leading the effort.

Jared Hutchins, a teacher at the High Tech High North County campus, was fired after speaking to the Union-Tribune and others about the effort to unionize. The California Teachers Association, the union teachers are hoping to join, has filed an unfair labor practice complaint, the U-T reports.

The Y Is Changing, But Chair Says the Future Is Bright

We recently wrote about the YMCA of San Diego. It is looking for a new CEO, and the pandemic had forced it to lay off hundreds of employees after it lost most of its paying members. It was selling a major piece of property in Escondido and the mayor is mad.

Kathy Scott, the chair of the YMCA of San Diego County Board of Directors, wrote a letter to say that the Y is back. It’s hiring again. Its members are returning. And it is implementing a “more sustainable operations and service model.”

“The YMCA will look different than it did last year; just about every organization today can say the same. We are not at a crossroads, but rather in the midst of fundamental changes that will result in a stronger Y that will better serve San Diego and its many diverse communities for many generations to come,” wrote Scott.

This Scripps Computer Ransom Thing Seems Really Bad

We have spent the last year collectively working to protect the health care system from dramatic shortcomings in service because of the pandemic but hackers appear to have hobbled one of San Diego’s three giant hospital networks in just days.

Workers at Scripps Health who spoke with NBC 7 say the cyberattack that forced the health care system offline Saturday is prolonging care for patients. Complaints about delayed cancer treatments and test results are filling social media and online forums. 

The U-T reported that the California Department of Health was monitoring the situation closely and that other hospitals were stepping up to pick up the slack.

In Other News

  • The U-T followed up on our investigation this week that revealed accusations of fraud, double billing and other conflicts of interest at Volunteers of America.
  • You can now get a coronavirus vaccine at dozens of CVS pharmacy locations in San Diego County without making an appointment. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego Magazine profiled five nurses who spent the past year on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Federal charges have been filed against a man accused of piloting a deadly human smuggling attempt off Point Loma Sunday. (Union-Tribune)
  • NBC 7 spent more than a year investigating mental health care in San Diego County and uncovered a system that patients, advocates and elected officials say is in need of an overhaul. Watch part one of the documentary series here.

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood and Sara Libby.

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