North Bay Business Journal

Monday, August 5, 2013, 5:55 am

RP casino, 7,000 applications, 2,000 jobs

‘There is clearly a talented workforce in the North Bay’


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    ROHNERT PARK — While hospitality and tourism already has been a bright spot in hiring this year across the North Bay, Sonoma County will likely see a significant jump in that sector with the opening of the Graton Resort and Casino, expected to employ about 2,000 people.

    Graton Resort and Casino view of outdoor seating - rendering Feb. 11, 2013

    Artist rendering of Graton Resort and Casino, as seen from the entrance

    Joe Hasson, general manager of the forthcoming casino expected to be completed by this fall, said the establishment has already received several thousand applications for a wide variety of positions, ranging from card dealers to security. [The casino's recruiting website: gratonresortcasino.com/Careers.]

    Both the volume and quality of candidates have been impressive, Mr. Hasson said, attributing the region’s established reputation as a tourist destination as a helpful factor in finding qualified workers.

    “Most of our offers will go out in late September, and by that time I would expect the 7,000 applicants to have grown,” he said. “It’s going quite well. There is clearly a talented workforce in the North Bay to take on work that involves hospitality that Sonoma County is well-known for.”

    So far, the casino, which will be the Bay Area’s largest with some 3,000 slot machines across 320,000 square feet, has hired an initial staff of about 100, mostly for key management positions. Las Vegas-based Station Casinos is managing the facility on behalf of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

    The hospitality and tourism sector in June had 53,220 workers in Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Lake and Mendocino counties, an increase of 2,000 employees, or 3.9 percent, from a year before, according to the latest state figures. Industry employment figures for Marin in 2012–2013 aren’t yet available, but sector employment in Marin was around 13,000 workers in 2011 and the previous few years.

    So total hiring plans for Graton Casino itself would account for about 3 percent of North Bay hospitality and tourism jobs, nearly matching all sector job growth in the region over 12 months.

    “It’s a big hospitality business at the end of the day,” Mr. Hasson said.

    While some industry sectors are struggling to find a talented workforce in the immediate North Bay as the economy improves, Mr. Hasson said that has not been the case with the casino. The vast majority of applicants, he said, are from the Sonoma and surrounding counties and only a small portion are would-be long distance commuters.

    “We are certainly not falling short,” Mr. Hasson said. “This is meant to provide incremental employment, largely for local people.”

    The largest portion of new employees at the casino will be card dealers, with about 750 or so total out of the 2,000 workers. Of that, Mr. Hasson said some 375 have already been trained through the casino’s dealer schools. Another training session will begin in August for prospective card dealers.

    Other positions include a robust security staff, surveillance, money handlers, slot personal, cashiers, food and beverage staff, as well as back of the house jobs like HR staff and accountants.

    Many of the positions could also become unionized, as there is an agreement between the tribe and trade groups in the North that will allow workers to eventually make that decision. Mr. Hasson said it was premature to say if and when that would occur and what union would be considered.

    The casino itself is a project labor agreement, with the vast majority of construction workers coming from local trade unions.

    In addition to the casino and resort, Station Casinos will operate and own several restaurants, which will require food service workers.

    Ultimately, Mr. Hasson said the casino would not only provide the 2,000 jobs but that it would also be a boon to the county’s tourism sector as a whole.

    “I think it will certainly give the tourism industry another opportunity to expand, and visitors to wine country and the North Bay will have another reason to come or stay longer,” Mr. Hasson said.

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    1. August 8, 2013, 10:28 am

      by M Montgomery

      There will be a job fair in Richmond for these “local” casino jobs next week. It’s being held by Unite Here! at the Bobby Bowen RPA Center. It’s hard to believe that out of 7,000 applications, they couldn’t find 2,500 qualified Sonoma County employees. There has been at least one complaint about the casino violating federal discrimination laws that I am personally aware of. Maybe Sonoma County applicants are too aware of their rights, and the casino doesn’t like it. Station Casinos is the company that was successfully sued for sexual harassment when it managed Thunder Valley casino. They are also notorious union busters.

    2. August 27, 2013, 9:40 pm

      by Concerned Citizen

      With all the advertisement about dealers making $35-$40 per year, my daughter an experienced dealer (and college educated) traveled 3 hours for an opportunity to further her career in this industry. She was successful and paid her $100 non refundable Tribal background fee which she received her temporary gaming license and was just waiting for her job offer. Well she received the phone call with a job offer not the $15-$17 per hour she was expecting but $8.40 per hour. REALLY and to live in Sonoma County. She currently works for a casino and makes a minimal wage, however, she keeps her own tips and earns an average $15-$18 per hour. With that stated she lives where the medium income is $35,062 per year. She was ready to make Graton a career move and move up in the gaming industry (pit supervisor/banker and the endless opportunities). $8.40 per hour and you share your tips….below poverty level in that area where the medium income is $64,343 in Sonoma County. We will be requesting her non refundable $100 fee for her background gaming check due to the [content deleted according to Comment Policy]. She was so disappointed….she wouldn’t even be able to rent a descent apartment on those wages!!

    3. September 15, 2013, 9:35 am

      by georgette jennings

      my husbund and i go see are son in santa rosa,and stay a week and visit river rock,this is going to be great,we can stay at your hotel for a week,and you are closer cant wait hurry cant wait

    4. September 15, 2013, 11:27 am

      by Ken Krall

      From a current union member at the Petaluma Sheraton-Know the truth about the union Unite Here Local 2850 who is using their usual deceptive tactics to more than double the size of their PAC-Political Action Committee by trying to unionize the Casino. They are not a real union.

      Read this article: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20130815/articles/130819713

      Unfortunately this article is far far from the truth. No employees were ever interviewed at the Sheraton. Very bad reporting by the Press Democrat. I wish they would not refer to us as “workers”. We are a diverse group of individuals with various levels of education. Many, like myself, work part time and have our own business or a second full time job. This is about our Union- Unite Here Local 2850 out of Oakland whom is not really a union but a Political Action Committee (PAC). They use us as a bank, collecting daily fees and up to a $100 worthless initiation fee.

      FOR THE TRUTH ABOUT ABOUT THIS ARTICLE Please visit the newly formed Petaluma Sheraton Employees Association for more up to date and detailed information: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Petaluma-Sheraton-Employees-Association/293259027480233Ken Krall, banquet chef, Petaluma Sheraton

    5. September 16, 2013, 6:26 pm

      by Ken Krall

      Regarding the comment by M Montgomery. My point. The Union is holding a job fair???? No, it is a lobby effort to gain union support by luring people in to an event thinking they are applying for a job. A job fair is held by an employer, duh…..The union simply figures a certain amount of the people who attend their “job fair” will actually get a job at the casino by actually applying like everyone else at the Graton Casino Employment Center and online. But they will have union lies and brainwashing ahead of time so that when the union tries to get in they will have their moles. It is not rocket science. The Casino is offering higher than normal wages and good benefits. There is no need for the union. They just want 2,000 more members to steal money from. Period, end of story.

    6. October 26, 2013, 3:39 pm

      by carlos A Enriquez

      this is much closer than Cache creek and thunder valley
      only half hour from our place which is Hayward hope the place will be
      better that these 2 casinos

    7. November 17, 2013, 5:02 pm

      by john

      I’m currently a las vegas dealer and have been for over 18yrs.
      I would prefer to live closer to San Francisco.
      I was looking at Graton Casino.

      I know the casino just opened up, but does anyone know what kind of money the dealers are making?
      I also have pit boss experience and was curious what they make also.

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