Atlantic City casino workers have voted to organize strikes if no progress is made on new contracts by the beginning of July. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Atlantic City casino workers have given their consent to union leaders to hold strikes in July if there is no agreement on new contracts by the beginning of next month. Unite Here Local 54 members approved the measure on Wednesday.
The first strike will continue on July 1 against the three casinos of Caesars Entertainment – Tropicana, Harrah’s and Caesars, as well as Borgata. There are also plans for a Hard Rock strike on July 3 if no deal is reached.
96% of voting members supported the mandate
According to union president Bob McDevitt, 96% of voting members supported the authorization to strike. After the vote, McDevitt told a cheery room full of union members at the Atlantic City Convention Center that “the industry better not take this lightly,” stressing it wasn’t an empty threat.
Looking for a pay increase?
Previous contracts for casino workers expired over two weeks ago. Despite intense negotiations, the casinos did not come up with a new deal. The union negotiating committee now has the ability to call strikes as it sees fit after the vote. Casino operators failed to comment.
The wage demands are supposed to be around $18 an hour
Casino workers are looking for “big” pay increases at a time when inflation and the cost of living are soaring. The wage requirement is supposed to be around $18 an hour. Many casino workers in the city have also had to deal with serious struggles associated with the pandemic. Reportedly, Atlantic City casinos have struggled to retain employees in other industries that offer higher wages.
Ocean Casino Resort and Bally’s will not have to put up with any strike. These casinos have an agreement with the federation that they will honor the terms of the contract that was eventually negotiated with the larger casinos in the city. According to McDevitt, Golden Nugget and Resorts casinos are in the yellow strike zone, while all other casinos are in the red strike zone.
Don’t be afraid to take action
Unite Here Local 54 represents workers from each of the nine casinos in Atlantic City. She is certainly not afraid to take action when she sees fit.
In 2004 the union organized a 34-day strike, while in July 2016 there was a strike at the former Trump Taj Mahal casino, which eventually saw the hotel shutter its doors for good in October. It has since reopened as Hard Rock through a different ownership.
Atlantic City casinos have bounced back strongly from lockdown and pandemic restrictions. Gaming earnings are in many cases now greater than pre-pandemic earnings, as online gambling winnings provided a huge boost.