As Encore Boston Harbor lobbies the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) to install automated drink dispensers in its back-of-house bar area, it is also vehemently disputing stories that 70 employees will be laid off as a result of using that new technology.
Encore appeared before the MGC on Thursday, Jan. 9, for a request to implement computerized drink dispensers at its bar area in the back of the house – a bar area that is not directly used by the public, but rather is utilized by the resort to fulfill drink orders from those actively playing on the gaming floor.
At the moment, cocktail servers gather orders from customers on the gaming floor, and then get those orders filled at the Central Bar Area in the back of the house. Several bartenders there, who are not interfacing with the public, make the drinks and then the servers deliver the drinks to customers. The proposed computerized system would eliminate those bartender positions and implement a faster drink operation, Encore said.
Reports late last week suggested that using those automated systems would put 70 people out of work.
Encore Spokesman Richard Krauss said it was the furthest thing from the truth.
“It has been inaccurately reported that 70 positions have been eliminated and/or replaced by automated beverage dispensers,” he said. “We are currently right sizing our business as we continue to make adjustments to our organization based both on customer feedback and how best to meet our business needs. Should any employee become displaced, we do everything we can to provide alternate job opportunities for them within our organization. Given the amount of related openings in other areas of the business, we cannot project the number of positions that will be impacted as a result of the automated beverage dispensers at this time.”
Krauss said the computerized dispensers would be four times faster than the current system, and they have had a number of customer complaints about drinks taking too long to arrive.
He said while some positions at the Central Bar Area might be phased out, that didn’t mean people are losing jobs at Encore. In fact, he said there several are bartender openings right now in the public-facing restaurants, which could be more lucrative due to larger tips from customers. The goal for anyone potentially displaced by the machines would be to place them in an open position as a bartender or some other need at the resort. He said that after such significant training and onboarding invested in each employee, the goal is never to have any of them be put out of a job involuntarily – as there are many opportunities still being filled in Encore.
The entire scenario is part of a larger re-positioning by the casino announced by CEO Matt Maddox on an investor call last fall. Maddox indicated at that time the Boston resort casino had likely over-hired during the lead-up to opening, and that there would need to be corrections in the workforce.
That happened already with the greeter positions at Encore, a new feature that the company had not utilized at any of its other resorts. As it turns out, Krauss said, the positions were not necessary and that new feature didn’t work out.
However, of the six greeter positions, at least four of them re-trained and are working in other positions at the resort, he said.
A lot of the employment data will become clearer this month, as a detailed annual report from the company is to be delivered to Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria in January as part of Everett’s Host Community Agreement (HCA). The HCA, under the permanent jobs category, states that Wynn shall provide Everett an annual report in January each year, starting in 2020. The report is to include full- and part-time employment levels by Wynn at the beginning of the reporting period (in this case the opening date, June 23) and the end.
Krauss said the report is being worked on right now, and nearly completed.
He said, though there are ebbs and flows in the workforce, Encore’s workforce is made up of about 14 percent Everett residents, and 16 percent Boston residents – the two largest communities represented for employment.
Krauss said there are some, however, who have left because they were terminated. He said Encore does not talk specifically about such things, but did say they have a progressive discipline policy at the resort.
“Regarding involuntary terminations, we have a progressive discipline policy that applies to all employees with non-egregious employee relations matters,” he said. “The progressive discipline policy applies equally across all employees, regardless of residency.”
The MGC has not yet decided on whether or not it will let Encore use the computerized drink machines.