Last updated: February 19. 2013 6:33PM - 100 Views

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PALMER, Mass. — The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, vying to open a casino in western Massachusetts, has reached a deal with a federation of about 50 labor unions to allow future employees to form a union and negotiate contracts.

The authority, which operates Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains Township, finalized the agreement with the Pioneer Valley AFL-CIO to cover employees at a casino it wants to build on a 150-acre site just off the Massachusetts Turnpike in Palmer, near Springfield.

The Republican newspaper reports the agreement could help the company win the only casino license designated for western Massachusetts, because under state law, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission must consider whether an applicant has a contract with organized labor, including hospitality services, and has the support of organized labor for its application when weighing its decision to award a license.

The first jobs to be created from casino gaming in Massachusetts will be union jobs, and we're excited to bring that opportunity to western Mass. and the entire region, Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said in a statement.

At least three other companies are seeking rights to build a casino in the western part of the state. Ameristar Casinos, Penn National Gaming and MGM Resorts all have plans for a resort casino in Springfield.

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