Wide-ranging support

Casino workers in Atlantic City have given their approval to union leaders to hold strikes in July if there is no agreement on new contracts by the start of next month. Members of the Unite Here Local 54 union agreed to the action on Wednesday.

The first strike would go ahead on July 1 against Caesars Entertainment’s three casinos – Tropicana, Harrah’s, and Caesars, as well as the Borgata. There are also plans for a Hard Rock strike on July 3 if there is still no deal in place.

96% of voting members supported the authorization

According to union president Bob McDevitt, 96% of voting members supported the authorization of a strike. Following the vote, McDevitt told a cheering room full of union members at the Atlantic City Convention Center that “the industry better not take this lightly,” affirming that it was not an empty threat.

Looking for wage increases

The casino workers’ previous contracts expired more than two weeks ago. Despite extensive negotiations, the casinos have not reached a new deal. The union negotiating committee now has the ability to call strikes as it sees fit following the vote. Casino operators have failed to comment.

wage demands are supposedly around $18 an hour

The casino workers are looking for “significant” wage increases at a time when inflation and living costs are rising. The wage demands are supposedly around $18 an hour. Many of the city’s casino workers also had to deal with serious pandemic-related struggles. Reportedly, Atlantic City casinos have struggled to retain staff with other industries offering higher wages.

Ocean Casino Resort and Bally’s will both not have to endure any strike action. These casinos have a deal with the union that they will honor contract terms ultimately negotiated with the larger casinos in the city. According to McDevitt, Golden Nugget and Resorts casinos are in the yellow zone, while all other casinos are in the red strike zone.

Not afraid to take action

The Unite Here Local 54 union represents workers from each of Atlantic City’s nine casinos. It is certainly not afraid to take action when it sees fit.

In 2004, the union held a 34-day strike, while in July 2016 there was a walk-out at the former Trump Taj Mahal casino, which ultimately saw the property close its doors for good that October. It has since reopened as the Hard Rock through different ownership.

Atlantic City casinos have bounced back strongly from pandemic closures and restrictions. Gaming revenue in a lot of cases is now greater than pre-pandemic, with online gambling revenue providing a significant boost.

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