In Atlantic City and the Local 54 branch of the Unite Here trade union has reportedly announced that its members are to begin picketing outside of the Tropicana Atlantic City property after it failed to reach new employee contracts with the city’s casinos.
According to a Tuesday report from the Associated Press news service, the action is set to begin from later this evening as the union’s existing deals with the nine casinos in the New Jersey community expire at midnight. The source explained that Local 54 has been holding talks for over a month in hopes of obtaining ‘significant’ pay rises for its members in the wake of a coronavirus-induced economic slump.
Bob McDevitt (pictured) leads the Local 54 arm of the Unite Here union and he reportedly detailed that his group’s members are to form a picket line in front of the Boardwalk venue tonight in hopes of breaking a stalemate in talks with Caesars Entertainment Incorporated, which runs the Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino, Tropicana Atlantic City and Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City properties, as well as the firm behind the giant Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa venue, MGM Resorts International.
McDevitt reportedly told the Associated Press…
“We’re looking forward to our action Wednesday night. We have a long way to go before we get a contract and we’re not far enough down the road for me to give you any kind of a prediction yet.”
The news service reported that Local 54, which has not publicly specified the wage increases it is seeking, would have to officially ask its membership to authorize a strike before a general walkout could occur. McDevitt purportedly divulged that no such vote has yet been scheduled although workers are eager to secure improved deals in order to keep from falling behind in an economy where labor shortfalls are swelling salaries in other industries while inflation eats away at consumers’ purchasing power.
The Associated Press earlier reported that casinos in Atlantic City are hoping to chalk up a strong summer in order to regain ground lost during the coronavirus pandemic and an associated 14-week closure in 2020. Any industrial action could purportedly harm this effort and potentially lead to the same kind of 34-day strike that forced billionaire investor Carl Icahn to close the Trump Taj Mahal venue in 2016 following a row concerning stripped health insurance and pension benefits.
The news service cited official data from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement in reporting that casinos in Atlantic City chalked up aggregated receipts of more than $4.2 billion last year. However, the properties have purportedly long argued that online casino and sportsbetting revenue streams are not what they seem due to the fact that their facilities are only allowed to pocket about 30% of any proceeds with the rest going in tax and payments to third-party providers.
Nevertheless, McDevitt reportedly noted that a survey of 1,943 Local 54 members conducted earlier in the month showed that 61% had struggled to punctually pay their mortgage or rent in the last year while 32% had admitted to being unable to afford sufficient food. To further compound the dire state of casino workers in Atlantic City and 37% of those who took part in the recent poll purportedly acknowledged that they lacked enough cash for utilities with a further 27% not having adequate funds for transportation.