UNITE HERE Workers Get Support from Atlantic City Council to Avoid Strikes

Two strikes against Atlantic City casinos were scheduled for July 1 and July 3 and the City Council is trying to help avert them.

Atlantic City Unanimous Vote Supporting Workers

UNITE HERE members in Local 54 in Atlantic City (AC) were scheduled to strike on July 1 and July 3. The casino workers are going on strike, calling for higher wages and more benefits. To avert these strikes, the AC City Council unanimously passed a supporting resolution in an effort to “urge casino employers to raise wages and staffing and negotiate in good faith.”

Councilman Kaleem Shabazz is expected to further support the unionized casino workers at 11 a.m. Thursday in the City Hall lobby. He was reported saying that “Workers need to make livable wages,” further cementing the City Hall’s hope that “there doesn’t have to be a strike.”

Strikes Scheduled July 1, 3

The two strikes by Atlantic City casino workers were voted on earlier this month, and there were provisions for calling them off if – for example – an agreement between the casinos and workers was reached beforehand. Workers are calling for increased wages just to keep up with inflation and the union seems to be discarding casinos’ uncertainties about returning to COVID-19 lockdowns.

The reason for these strikes was simple. Workers’ contracts had expired earlier, then weeks went on without reaching new agreements, naturally making workers feel unsafe since their jobs were left unprotected by binding contracts. The Union president, Bob McDevitt, shared a warning to the industry with the press, stating that these strikes were serious, and should not be taken lightly. Casinos appear to at least partially agree, as no public comments were issued.

According to the agreed-upon schedule, strikes will start with Borgata and Caesars-owned casinos on July 1, followed by Hard Rock on July 3. However, since Bally’s Casino and the Ocean Casino Resort already have agreements in place, they will be exempt from the strikes. Adding further nuances to the union-organized strikes is discerning between casinos in the “yellow zone” and “red zone”.

Making National News Prematurely Undesired

This all happens in the face of the national NAACP convention, taking place July 14 to 21, which is dangerously close to the strikes, risking making national news just before the convention. It will be held in the Atlantic City Convention Center with events spreading throughout the city, as well as some taking place at the Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield.

The City Council on Wednesday also passed two more related ordinances. One in regards to littering, doubling fines. This means the first offense is now $1,000 instead of $500, and the second offense is going to be $2,000, instead of $1,000. 90 days of jail time can be expected for each offense after the third one. The other ordinance regards the AC Jitney, raising the cost to $2.50 from $2.25.

It’s apparent that citizens need multiple quality of life improvements. As such, it was expected that a detailed discussion of the city’s proposed $236 million budget would take place, but that got pushed back to next week, for a special meeting.

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