SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- MGM Springfield, once again, is cutting their workforce in the wake of the pandemic.
MGM Springfield President Chris Kelley said in a letter to employees Friday that 250 employees have either been laid off or had their hours reduced in this most recent wave of cuts.
Kelley is placing the blame on Governor Charlie Baker’s new executive order restricting business hours.
What was meant to be the economic hub of Springfield's downtown is now further restrained by COVID-19.
Per Baker’s executive order, MGM Springfield must close by 9:30 p.m. each day and the hotel and TAP Sports Bar are closed until further notice.
"We are hopeful to return employees to work and increase hours when the executive order is lifted, operations expand and business demand returns. The Governor has not yet announced when the order will be lifted so, unfortunately, we don’t know how long this may last and cannot fully assess any lasting impacts on our business levels," Kelly explained.
State Sen. Eric Lesser said, "We’ve got to get the virus numbers under control but we also need a simultaneous economic response. We’re facing twin emergencies."
Western Mass News spoke with Lesser about the pandemic’s costly impact on the casino and the need for more unemployment aid on the federal and state level.
“Unfortunately, our workers in hospitality, our restaurant workers, our workers in casinos for example, are paying the price for this and it’s not their fault,” Lesser noted.
Impacted employees will continue to be enrolled in the company's health insurance plans through at least December 31, 2020. Kelley noted that the company will reevaluate and provide updates to all employees as that date nears. Those effected employees will also continue to have access to reskilling and training opportunities, internal job postings, and utilize company resources such as their Employee Emergency Grant Fund.
[You just come up here to visit?]
"Yes we do!" said MGM Springfield guest Debbie Corbett.
Corbett lives in the Bronx and frequently visits the casino in Springfield. Making her visits difficult, the closure of the casino's hotel due to COVID-19
"We would like to stay over because it is a drive," she noted.
Western Mass News spoke with Frank Rossi, president of Teamsters Local 404, representing hotel workers at the casino.
He told Western Mass News under their collective bargaining agreement, laid-off employees will be placed on a recall list, saying:
"They'll be recalled by order of their seniority."
Rossi said this is the second time some of the union's employees have been laid-off.
When the casino was closed back in spring, nearly 2,000 workers were laid-off, 800 employees brought back on when the casino partially reopened in the summer, and 1,000 workers were "separated" from the company in August.
On the most recent wave of layoffs, Rossi told Western Mass News in a statement, saying:
"I don't blame the employer. I blame the pandemic."
"I think it’s the right thing to do because the holidays are coming, and I think it could get ugly," Corbett said.
Kelley told us affected employees have access to retraining programs and internal job postings, as well as the employee emergency grant fund.