An agreement between the union representing the mutuel clerks at the Meadowlands Racetrack and real estate executive Jeff Gural, who is seeking to takeover the track, is expected to be reached by the end of the day Tuesday.
Ray Pocino, eastern regional manager of the Laborers International Union of North America — and who is said to be the labor leader closest to Gov. Chris Christie — is advising the executive board of Local 137, which represents the tellers, according to Robert Lewandowski, spokesman for the Laborers’ Union. “An agreement will be hashed out by the end of the day,” said Lewandowski, who declined to provide more details.
Pocino’s involvement in the negotiations came as no surprise to other labor leaders.
“He has a very good relationship with the governor, and if anyone can get something done, he can,” said Richard K. Dressel, business manager at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 164, who has known Pocino for years.
The Laborers Union is the largest political donor among the state’s unions, and Pocino has a very large Political Action Committee fund to make contributions, Dressel said.
“Ray has the financial clout in New Jersey,” he said. “When he opens his mouth, people listen, and he gets whatever he can for his members.”
On April 14, the tellers’ union had decided to not even vote on a contract offered by Gural, with representatives citing a 20 percent pay cut as one of the reasons for the union’s opposition to the deal.
In a statement issued April 15, Christie called Local 137’s failure to vote “a potentially fatal obstacle to continuing racing operations at the East Rutherford facility.” As a result of the union decision, Christie said live racing at the racetrack would not continue on May 7, as previously scheduled, and that simulcasting would end May 12, the same day that layoffs of racetrack employees would begin.
Gural and Local 137 could not be immediately reached.
E-mail Evelyn Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org