Cocktail waitresses at the United States' largest casino are fighting for the right to wear whatever shoes they want. Talks for the waitresses' first union contract at Foxwoods, a massive property in southeastern Connecticut, have stalled after many of the casino’s workers have objected to proposed shoe requirements.
Many have worked at the casino since it opened in 1992 and see the new requirements as a bid by management to push them out and make way for younger workers.
Owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, the casino recently relented on a requirement for two-inch heels, but it is insisting that servers wear polishable black shoes, Fox News reported.
Cheryl Haase, 52, has worked at the casino for years and said carrying trays of drinks in high heels has sent her to chiropractors and podiatrists for injections to treat inflammation.
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"Most of us girls have been here for 20 years, 15 years," Haase said. "This job has really done a number on our feet and they know it."
A Connecticut podiatrist, Dr. Eric Levine of Norwich, said he often 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.'"
The union was brought in to help with the situation after consultants began speaking to servers about the high-heeled look that the casino was seeking.
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“That's why we got the union in here," said bartender, Janet Cochran. "They were looking at the older people."
Foxwoods, which employs about 8,000 people, has been facing a steady decline in revenue and is also negotiating a deal to try to reduce its debt of $2.27 billion.
Haase wears black clogs instead of heels and she is not very excited about the possibility of having to switch back.
"After 20 years of being there, I can't wear a shoe that's angled like that because my foot is too wide for it," she said.