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Diamond Jo could lay off 60% of its employees

By Arian Schuessler, Mason City Globe Gazette


When the Diamond Jo Worth Casino in Northwood reopens on Monday, it’ll be much different than when it was ordered to close March 17. Guest health screenings are now being done before customers enter. Hand sanitizer is free and flowing throughout the main grounds. Slot machines, table games such as blackjack and roulette, and restaurant and bar seating have been rearranged to observe social distancing recommendations.

With those temporary changes could come longer-term changes to employment for Diamond Jo Worth.

In a letter to Diamond Jo Worth employees, parent company Boyd Gaming informed its workers that anywhere from 25% to 60% could be laid off as a result of the changes for safety that the COVID-19 pandemic has demanded.

According to Boyd Gaming Vice President Corporate Human Resources Chris Smith, who signs off on the letter —which was sent to the Globe Gazette by a reader with knowledge of the situation — the likely layoffs would be conducted between July 1 and July 14 as the company “better understand(s) business volumes following reopening.”

Along with that, the letter also states that team members who are not let go could expect to possibly be furloughed for longer than six months.

To decide when employees come back, the letter states that considerations are made to seniority order as well as terms that were collectively bargained for union employees. But it’s clear in the letter that there’s no determination of just how many employees will ultimately be let go.

For employees who are furloughed and enrolled in a company health program, the letter states coverage will now extend through July 31. There is no direct mention of continuing such coverage for employees who are laid off, nor is there a specific reference about severance pay.

Based on reporting from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, thousands of Boyd Gaming Corp. employees across the country received similar notices about impending layoffs. Those letters are also signed by Smith.

Responding to the news, a company statement said “While we are trying to be as transparent as possible with our team members, we cannot determine at this time exactly how many team members will be recalled to work, and how many will need to be laid off. As a result, in accordance with applicable laws, we are providing notice to a portion of our workforce of the possibility for layoffs.”

Earlier this month, the Worth County Development Authority announced that the organization would have to suspend grant applications for its fall cycle because the closure of Diamond Jo Worth Casino meant that all revenue had “ceased.”

The WCDA gets 5.76% of Diamond Jo’s income that it then grants out to government entities and 501(c)(3) nonprofits in the county. Since the casino has been disrupted for so long, the grant program had to shut down.