Atlantic City Worker Strikes Pay Off, 2 Casinos Still Deliberating Raises

Atlantic City casino workers have apparently been severely underpaid for years and the Local 54 members were preparing for simultaneous strikes on multiple local casinos on July 1 and July 3. These strikes were avoided in five out of seven casinos and the new contracts are “historic” for the workers.

AC Casino Workers Score 5 Out Of 7 Wins

Atlantic City casino workers voted in June to go on strike. UNITE HERE members in Local 54 were gathering together, asking for higher wages in the face of inflation and generally rising cost of living. Planned strike days were July 1 and July 3 and Atlantic City (AC) city council voted unanimously in support of the workers, calling casino operators to sit down and renegotiate with their workers.

6,000 employees have ratified new four-year contracts – that represent five out of the seven casinos that were going to be faced with worker strikes. About 1,000 are still preparing to strike, though, as the two remaining casinos – Resorts and Golden Nugget – haven’t gotten to new agreements with their obviously distressed and unsatisfied employees.

According to a report from Associated Press, the new agreements are much more favoring employees, earning a 99% approval rate at the Local 54 voting on the proposed deals. The new agreements are regarded as being “historic” by the union. Raises will include both tipped and non-tipped personnel, with housekeeping staff seeing raises to $18 per hour across all casinos – that’s up from varying levels throughout the different venues. This will increase to $22 per hour at the end of the newly minted four-year contracts.

Union president Bob McDevitt was reported commenting “It’s hard to sell a housekeeping job at $16 an hour,” adding that “It’s a lot easier to sell one at $20 or $22 an hour.” Additionally, besides sorely needed raises, the new agreements will provide guaranteed pension benefits, as well as fully-funded family health care. Most importantly, the contracts include language that will protect jobs – a much-needed upgrade from the last time, when uncertainty and insecurity brought about escalation to potential strikes.

Two Casinos Still Dragging Their Feet with New Deals

Strikes, that more and more seem inevitable, thanks to Resorts and Golden Nugget casinos still dragging their feet on making new deals with their employees. The unionized workers were able to reach new agreements with Caesars, Harrah’s, Tropicana, Borgata, and – in the very last minute before the July 1 strikes – Hard Rock, followed by the so-called “me-too” arrangements, made by Bally’s and the Ocean Casino Resort, that saw them commit to deals made with other large operators in the city.

Resorts and Golden Nugget, however, seem to be immune to the pressure build-up from threatening strikes, so UNITE HERE Local 54 members that work there are deliberating another strike, scheduled for July 19, pending a strike authorization vote. According to McDevitt, the strike authorization vote could be regarded as a way to prepare for the work stoppage, which would indicate a further escalation in the case with the two remaining casinos. McDevitt said that “We don’t want to be in the last weeks of summer and staring at Labor Day weekend without a new contract,” emphasizing the union’s desire to get to new deals or start further escalation.

The 1,000 or so employees, would almost certainly vote to do anything possible to get in on the “historic” raises their colleagues from other casinos are already signing, so this leaves it to the casinos to either join the “me-too” contracts, come up with their own alluring proposals or face some more stiff worker dissatisfaction. Resorts and Golden Nugget casinos have both declined to comment on Tuesday.

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