Waitresses at a Connecticut Casino are fighting for their rights to wear shoes of their choosing.
The shoe dispute is among a few issues set between the casino and Local 371 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents about 365 Foxwoods workers including 200 beverage servers.
Contract talks for the UFCW have been going on for two years. For the waitresses, concerns of the casino tightening its shoe requirements is at the top of the list of issues.
The hearings set for September are also expected to address differences over wages, health insurance rates and preferential treatment for tribal employees, reports Fox News.
Foxwoods is massive property in southeastern Connecticut that is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Foxwoods, employs about 8,000 people, and has been facing a steady decline in revenue and is also negotiating a deal to try to reduce its debt of $2.27 billion.
Foxwoods recently gave up on a policy insisting that waitresses wear two-inch heels, but the casino still wants its servers to wear polishable black shoes, subject to approval by management, according to union members cited by AP.
According to union representative Keri Hoehne, servers could be exempt with a doctor’s note for up to a year, but would then have to resign or take another position.
One waitress, Cheryl Haase has been serving cocktails at the casino for more than two decades. “Most of us girls have been here for 20 years, 15 years. This job has really done a number on our feet and they know it,” Haase said.
A Connecticut podiatrist, Dr. Eric Levine of Norwich, said he treats casino waitresses who come to him with painful conditions. “Several have told me they’re not going to stop wearing them,” he said. “The higher the heel, the larger the tip.”
Haase said she wears black clogs after a doctor urged her to stop wearing narrow-toed shoes preferred by the casino, but she worries she would have to switch back if the casino has its way.