Atlantic City, casino union reach agreement, avoiding weekend strike
July 2, 2022
On Thursday, the Atlantic City casino union reached an agreement with four casinos (Borgata, Caesars, Harrah's, and Tropicana). The agreement contains a new contract that has an impact on avoiding the strike action, which was projected to occur on 4 July.
Regarding the deal, representatives from the four casinos were reluctant to immediately respond. The deal comes in the midst of a crucial situation for Atlantic City, which is trying to recover losses due to the pandemic, inflation, and also a lack of manpower.
Casino union receives their demands
Local president 54 of Unite Here and union representative Bob McDevitt told the media it was the best contract ever. This is because the unions get all the demands they want and need.
The agreement reached made the workers very happy. Ronnette Lark, a worker at Harrah's Casino said: "I'm very happy. I've been here for 24 years and never got a raise. With this deal, we get a big raise."
Local 54 unions did not disclose the settlement of the agreement directly to the media. The related party disclosed that the terms needed to be fully conveyed to the union members and ratified before they took effect. Even so, they assured the media that the deal had provided significant improvements that helped employees to compensate for their increasing personal needs.
Workers demand increase in wages
The deteriorating economic conditions since the emergence of the pandemic and reinforced by inflation are the main factors driving the demands of workers in the casino industry. Different from previous years, this time the workers demanded a bigger salary increase because of the higher necessities of life that had to be met.
However, the exact amount of the salary increase demands has not been announced.
In previous contracts, the union focused more on maintaining health care as well as pension benefits. In this contract, however, the union put more emphasis on asking for a significant wage increase to cover the rising cost of living.
New Jersey casino industry strike
Reaching this agreement could avoid the possibility of the first casino strike in the city since 2016, which is said to be held this weekend. The strike previously took place on July 1, 2016, and ended with the casino closing on October 10 the same year.
At that time, unions rejected the demands of billionaire Carl Icahn and argued that the Trump Taj Mahal operated without health benefits and pensions. The strike ended in court and the casino went bankrupt.
A few months later, the casino was sold to Hard Rock international and changed to Hard Rock Atlantic City in June 2018. Despite the new management, the financial system is complex enough to create disputes.
According to a report, Hard Rock won $1.8 billion during the first five months after its founding. This number has increased by more than 49 percent in 2019.
However, Hard Rock's management dismissed the report, claiming that third-party partners kept around 70 percent of the revenue. It also revealed that a more accurate metric is money won from outright gamblers and the amount is not as large as stated in the report.
Through the achievement of this agreement, the problems that exist in the Hard Rock casino also have the hope of being resolved.