Mashantucket - Nineteen workers have been laid off in Foxwoods Resort Casino's restructuring of its engineering department, casino management said Wednesday.
"Over the last several weeks, we have been able to explore alternatives to involuntary layoffs, including promoting a total of 14 employees, allowing them to more effectively utilize their strengths and areas of expertise," Dale Wolbrink, a Foxwoods spokeswoman, said in an email.
"A total of 19 positions were eliminated due to prior departmental overstaffing," he said.
In addition, 33 members of the department voluntarily accepted severance packages, according to employees who asked to remain anonymous.
John Fussell, an attorney who represents Local 30 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, noted that the layoffs were not as extensive as originally proposed. Foxwoods had informed the union last month that it intended to eliminate more than 70 engineering positions.
The 14 employees who were promoted filled vacant supervisory positions in the engineering department, which required them to relinquish their union affiliation, the employees said. Local 30 represents the department's non-management employees.
All told, the restructuring reduced the department's union ranks by 66, leaving the union with slightly more than 200 members.
"Today, our engineering department and its team members are poised for continued success from a productivity, proficiency, and occupational perspective," said Chris O'Connell, Foxwoods' vice president of hotel operations, who oversees the department.
Engineering department members include plumbers, carpenters, electricians, HVAC technicians, landscapers, millwrights, painters, locksmiths and power plant workers.
Foxwoods did not provide specifics on how the restructuring affected the individual trades. Employees who spoke about the restructuring said the number of power plant workers, who maintain the three plants that serve Foxwoods, including MGM Grand at Foxwoods, and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, was cut from 18 to nine.
While Local 30 officials did not respond to repeated calls and emails seeking comment this week, Fussell responded by email Wednesday.
"The union regrets the decision of the new Foxwoods vice president to reduce the engineering department workforce," Fussell said, referring to Richard Emmons, whom Foxwoods named vice president of engineering and projects in April.
"However, it is his judgment that the reduced workforce will be able to provide safe and efficient services to the casino patrons. The union and its membership are committed to providing safe and efficient services to the casino patrons and to make every effort to work through these difficult times in a constructive manner."