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Five Atlantic City Casinos Could Face Union Strike by July 1

Zachary Gleason

Atlantic city casino workers to go on strike

It seems that the Atlantic City casinos are facing even more serious trouble than before, as they continue to struggle to turn a profit, 96% of the members of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union voted in favor of a strike. This would account for more than half of the city’s hotels and casinos that could effectively shut down for an undetermined amount of time, and would be disastrous for the gambling tourist town.

Summer Season Shutdown

Being as Atlantic City offers tourists with entertainment in many different areas, they thrive on the casino and hotel business. With over six thousand workers threatening to go on strike right before the summer rush could be detrimental as they get a lot of visitors and players during these months. The casinos that could get shut down include:

  • Caesars
  • Harrah’s Resort
  • Bally’s
  • Tropicana
  • Trump Taj Mahal

With the last three on the list being the ones that would lose the most if the strike goes according to plan. None of the owners have given a statement regarding this issue.

Casino Union Workers

This won’t be the first time the workers go on strike, as they did so in 2004; however, the casinos quickly hired replacement workers. What these cocktail servers, bellhops, cooks, and housekeepers are looking for is an increase in their hourly wages. They currently earn $11.74 an hour and are fighting to get it up to $12.50 for at least five years.

Bob McDevitt, president of the Local 54 union has stated that if an agreement is not made between the owners and its members they will be walking off the job on July 1st. In 2011, when the union made contract agreements with the casinos for their current salary, business and profits were hard to come by. However, now that profits are going up, with an increase of 40% in operating profits during 2015 ($547.4 million) and 31% increase during this year’s first quarter, the workers feel it is necessary to revisit the terms of their contracts. McDevitt was quite vocal about the unfair treatment of the casinos,

“The companies were more than happy to take givebacks when times were tough and now they’re refusing (to reciprocate) when times are better. It’s a matter of fundamental fairness.”

Many of the workers haven’t had a salary increase since 2004 and are looking to get rewarded for their time, loyalty, and of course, good work. A casino industry analyst, Steve Norton, argues that the casinos are barely surviving and if they give in to these demands, some would most likely close. It is unsure what will happen currently, but by July 1 we should get our answer.

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