Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday called for a review of the state’s investment in Wayzata Investment Partners after the company’s labor practices at an Indiana casino it owns were criticized by union officials. Wayzata Investment is a major stockholder in the Star Tribune.
At a meeting of the State Board of Investment, a worker and union representative from Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Ind., criticized the casino’s owner, Wayzata Investment Partners. The state has invested in the firm.
Jim Baker, a spokesman for Unite Here, the union representing casino workers, complained of layoffs, frozen wages and difficulty in negotiating a new contract since Wayzata took over in 2011.
“The private equity firms that Minnesota partners with should be good partners for the communities in which they do business,” Baker said. A housekeeper from the casino, Jeri Elliott, said the casinos have offered good long-term employment, and she does not want to lose ground.
Dayton and the board asked staff to look into the situation and report back at the next meeting.
“If this is their practice, I don’t want us to invest with them,” Dayton told the board. “I would want us to divest all of our investment in them as soon as we could do so practically and legally, and disassociate ourselves from these practices.”
After the meeting, Dayton said he was not calling for a new investment policy for firms with labor issues. “I asked the staff of the State Board of Investment to look into the situation,” he said. "We heard one version of it today. Usually there are two or more sides to every story."
Officials at the investment firm were not available for comment.