By Jamie Fentress in Atlantic City
Atlantic City’s main union for casino workers is warning that “labor disputes” could occur if the casinos don’t agree to new contracts by a May 31 deadline, according to the AP.
The move comes at the start of what will be a crucial season for Atlantic City’s casinos in the third year of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, the union said it is seeking “significant” wage increases in the upcoming contracts to help its members recover from the financial harm caused by the pandemic. It did not specify the amount of increase it is seeking.
Local 54 of the Unite Here union set up the website actravelalert.org listing other hotels that have union contracts in place and which travelers might want to consider using if new contracts aren’t reached or existing ones extended.
The union is in the midst of contract negotiations with the nine Atlantic City casinos. The website represents an increase in pressure on the casinos, even as it risks harming the atmosphere during ongoing talks.
“We’re not threatening anybody,” said Bob McDevitt, the union’s president. “But we’re very serious about leveraging whatever we need to leverage to get our members a good contract.”
Local 54 is currently negotiating with Caesars Entertainment, which owns Caesars, Harrah’s and the Tropicana, and MGM Resorts International, which owns the Borgata. It has reached agreements with the Ocean Casino Resort and Bally’s to abide by the terms of the contract negotiated by the two larger casino companies, McDevitt said.
McDevitt said Caesars and MGM “need to be reminded” of what can happen during a labor dispute in Atlantic City, including a strike. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn closed the Taj Mahal in 2016 after the union went on strike because health insurance and pension benefits were stripped from its members by a bankruptcy court.