The middle of the week saw Atlantic City casino workers authorize their leaders to call a strike against gambling operators in the city in case no new contracts are reached by the beginning of the following month.
Members of the Unite Here union gave permission to their negotiating committee to call a strike on July 1st against the Borgata and the three casino venues that Caesars Entertainment currently owns in Atlantic City – Caesars, Tropicana and Harrah’s – and another one on July 3rd against Hard Rock if no new deals with the gambling companies are announced by then. The latest contracts expired more than 2 weeks ago and the parties are currently trying to reach a new deal through ongoing negotiations.
Bob McDevitt, the Union President, explained that 96% of the several thousand union members agreed on authorizing a strike, and the local gambling industry should not take this lightly.
The workers’ “yes” vote will not lead to a strike called right away. It only provides the negotiating committee of the union, which is comprised of workers employed by all 9 casinos, with the power to call a strike. Union members have now openly announced they are ready to walk out in case a strike is called.
This is not the first time when the worker union prepares for a strike. In 2004, it went on strike for a period of 34 days. Then, in 2016, employees walked out against the then-Trump Taj Mahal casino – an action that eventually resulted in the casino ceasing operations in October of the same year. Since then, the property has resumed operations as Hard Rock, under the ownership of a different company.
Bally’s and Ocean Casino Resort Will Not Be Struck, the Rest of AC Casinos Endangered by Strikes
The president of Unite Here union shared that the organization has so-called “me-too” deals with the Ocean Casino Resort and Bally’s, under which the terms of the agreements reached with the larger casino properties in Atlantic City have to be honored. That effectively guarantees that Bally’s and Ocean are “in the green zone”, which basically means they will not be struck. Mr. McDevitt further noted that Golden Nugget and Resorts are in the yellow zone, while the rest of the Atlantic City casinos are in the red zone.
Historically, the union fights with the sector have been mostly associated with healthcare. This time, it is all about economics. As revealed by the casino workers union, its members are seeking significant wage increases in the next contract. The increase is aimed at helping casino employees deal with the negative financial effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the rapidly rising prices.
The disagreements between the local casino sector and the workers come at quite a turbulent time in Atlantic City. Currently, reports have shown that local casinos and their online partners are collectively generating more money than before the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
Casinos in the city, however, have said the aforementioned statistics are misleading because they are only allowed to keep approximately 30% of online and sports betting revenue, with the rest of the money going to their third-party partners. According to Atlantic City casino operators, in-person revenue generated by gamblers is the crucial metric and taking it into consideration will show they have not managed to surpass their revenue from before the pandemic.