Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield Put More Women on Construction Site

Posted on: August 22, 2018, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: August 22, 2018, 08:44h.

Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield are collectively investing nearly $3.5 billion to build two integrated casino resorts in Massachusetts, and the companies are entrusting a large percentage of female construction workers to get the job done.

Encore Boston Harbor women construction
A growing number of women are working on the Encore Boston Harbor casino construction site. (Image: Charles Krupa/AP/Harriet Taylor/CNBC/Casino.org)

The Massachusetts Expanded Gaming Act passed in 2011 mandated various diversity-related requirements. Among them is a condition that casino licensees hire women to make up at least 6.9 percent of their construction workforce.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up nine percent of the entire labor force in the construction industry sector in 2016.

CNBC reports that both the $2.5 billion Encore Boston Harbor and $960 million MGM Springfield have surpassed the 6.9 percent mark. The business media outlet says Wynn Resorts’ property just recently hit seven percent, while 7.5 percent of those in hardhats were women at MGM’s complex, which opens this week.

Easier Said Than Done

Despite the higher national average rate of female construction workers, MGM and Wynn said meeting the 6.9 percent threshold was difficult. Speaking with CNBC, company executives explained that finding qualified female skilled laborers to build such extravagant resorts wasn’t easy.

It’s been very hard. It takes a concerted effort, and it really takes a partnership of the local trade unions, as well as the contractors,” MGM Springfield COO Michael Mathis explained.

Mathis also voiced concerns regarding hiring women who might not be necessarily fully trained for the job.

“You are taking inexperienced labor and putting them on the site, and you’re making sure that you train them up,” he added. “But we’ve made that investment, as have our partners.”

Encore Boston Harbor, the renamed Wynn Boston Harbor after the sexual allegations scandal that rocked the company’s founder and former CEO, is set to open in 2019. With work ongoing, the project only hit the required seven percent plateau in July.

Encore Boston President Bob DeSalvio said it’s been a bonus having more women on the worksite.

“It’s important to get a woman’s perspective on every aspect of the job, whether it’s the office or it’s out here on the construction site,” DeSalvio opined. “I think we’ll wind up with a better work environment and a better place for our guests to enjoy, because they’ll look around and see that we are really reflective of today’s society.”

Worker Deaths

One construction worker was killed during the building of Encore Boston Harbor. Excavator operator Joe Teixeira, 56, died in early April after a piece of heavy construction material fell on top of his machine’s cab.

Another man, John Pitcher, died the same month in a hospital from blood clots. In a lawsuit filed against Wynn Resorts, his family alleges the clots were the result of injuries sustained while working offsite on the Encore Boston Harbor project.

Lawyers for Pitcher claim he was hit by a crane in December while removing toxic materials from a water site about a mile from the actual Wynn casino project. He suffered multiple fractures, a punctured lung, and traumatic brain injury. The case is ongoing.