Union labor protests casino delays: demand jobs now

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati labor unions are demanding that Ohio Governor John Kasich get the ball rolling again on casino construction in four major Ohio sites, including right here in the Queen City.

The Cincinnati AFL-CIO and The Greater Cincinnati Building and Construction Trades Council held a news conference Thursday afternoon.

They claim a delay in construction is costing area workers nearly a thousand jobs.

Developer Rock Ventures has stopped the construction, while the company and the Governor try to come to an agreement on how much in taxes the developer should pay the state.

The Governor wanted to take another look at the tax situation, claiming voters got a bad deal when they voted for the casinos in 2009.

Union workers are definitely not happy with the way this whole casino project has been delayed and potentially down-sized once it gets moving again.

They say time is money and every day they're not working at the site is money lost.

"People could be working right now, bringing in tax money right now, spending money in the communities right now," said Service Employees International Union Organizer Jarrett Siler. He said the stalled casino project shot down high-hopes for a summer job boom.

"It affects everybody looking for jobs," Siler said. "It affects everybody that could be out here working right now, it affects revenue that could be coming into the city from people working right now."

But instead, workers are standing on the outside of the mesh, locked fences, looking at what is now being dubiously dubbed,"Kasich's Crater."

"It stands as visible witness to probably the worst 4 full months of a Governor opening his administration," said Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune. "That's never happened in the history of the State of Ohio."

Portune said Governor Kasich is killing the earning power of people out of work right now, like Ciera Allen.

"It's been pretty tough," Allen said. "I know with myself and a lot of my family members it's just been hard for all of us to get jobs."

But standing side-by-side with her fellow union members, she feels empowered.

"And hearing the pains of people out here and seeing how fired-up they are, fires me up," she said.

"17-hundred permanent jobs put on-hold if not lost because of the policies of this Governor," Portune stated.

And when it's built, the casino will most likely be shy of it's grand origins.

"I think it's funny that he's cutting taxes and giving tax breaks to companies left and right, then, when it comes to the casino, he's stopping at something people voted on, this stuff was established, voted-on twice," said Siler.

"His position basically is, if he didn't do it, it's no good," Portune said. "Get on the bus or we'll roll over you with the bus."

"We're being squished by the bus and we're tired of it," said Bentley Davis, with the group  Fight For A Fair Economy.

"We need the jobs, I think we need the jobs now, we voted on this, it needs to go forward," said Davis.

"Do you have any faith the works going to start any time soon?" we asked Portune. "I don't see it, I don't see any evidence of it," Portune said.

Commissioner Portune said the losses are extraordinary. In 2013, Cincinnati would start realizing $21 million or more in direct casino revenues for their coffers, to help balance their budget. The county would receive up to 12 to 15 million dollars.

That is all lost money he said, because the Governor wants to re-do an already done deal, taxpayers already voted for.

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