[DISCLOSURE: Blue Lake Rancheria is a minority owner of the Outpost’s parent company, Lost Coast Communications, Inc.]

Blue Lake Rancheria press release:

As one of the top ten largest employers in Humboldt County, the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe recognizes the benefits of unionized labor such as keeping wages competitive, and retaining employees with an organizing structure that is designed to be fair and balanced.

The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe has reached an agreement with UNITE HERE Local 49, a labor union which will represent over a hundred hospitality workers at the Tribe’s largest business enterprises, including the Blue Lake Casino, Blue Lake Hotel, several restaurants, and fuel station / convenience store.

The Blue Lake Rancheria is the first Tribe on the North Coast whose employees chose to unionize, and the Tribe took a collaborative approach by working with organized labor by respecting its employees’ rights to unionize, at a time when there’s been a surge in union organization interest nationwide.

“The Blue Lake Rancheria supports organized labor and a year ago readily agreed to a fair process under which employees could choose whether to unionize without interference,” said Jason Ramos, Tribal Administrator. “Once the workers made the decision to unionize, the Tribe negotiated in good faith to achieve a mutually beneficial contract in a short timeframe.”

With the ongoing labor shortages in the hospitality, restaurant, and other retail industries, the Tribe is viewing unionizing as a progressive way to retain employees, become more strategic in designing overall compensation packages with priorities identified by employees such as healthcare, paid time off, and retirement plans, and stay competitive for prospective new hires looking for work.

Under the agreement, employees will have access to competitive wages that keep up with the cost of living in the region, more paid time off, and benefits that support working parents, items asked for by union representatives during negotiations.

Union representative Ashley Whipple believes the union will open up more opportunities for promotions and consistent raises, at a time when inflation has created more fiscal challenges for working families.

“I think there are multiple benefits to being part of a union, Ashley Whipple, union representative, said. “I think the biggest one would probably be the accountability, not just for employers but for employees, too. It creates a space of fairness. I think it opens the door for better communication between employers and employees.”