On Thursday, 99 percent of UNITE HERE Local 54’s Tropicana members agreed to the terms of a new contract offered by the Tropicana Atlantic City, according to an Associated Press report.
The three Caesar’s properties along with the Tropicana reached agreements on the eve of the walk-out on June 30. Five thousand of the union’s 9,600 workers, including various hospitality staff, such as servers, bartenders, and porters, are covered by the agreements with the employees from the four Atlantic City casinos.
Workers were seeking restoration of the part of its package the union gave up during contract talks in 2011 when the casinos were struggling. That includes upwards of a week of paid vacation, an hourly wage increase of $3 to be implemented over five years in increments of .60 cents, as well as contributions by employers to the union’s health fund in order to maintain benefits at their current levels. Details of the Tropicana contract have yet to be made public.
While Unite Here Local 54 workers from Caesars, Bally’s, and Harrah’s in Atlantic City have approved upwards of $44 million worth of contracts, nearly 1,000 of Local 54’s members remain on strike at the Trump Taj Mahal. Tony Rodio, who is the president of Tropicana Entertainment and runs the operations at the Taj Mahal on behalf of Icahn, sent Local 54 a letter last week informing them that on July 18 at 5pm the health care offer made by the company will expire and will no longer be valid.
Billionaire business magnate Carl Icahn owns both the Tropicana and the Taj Mahal. In March last year Icahn took over the Taj Mahal, but not before conincing a bankruptcy court to allow him to strip the unionized members of their health and pension benefits; overall, worker compensation in wages and benefits was cut by 35 percent. After the strike began, Icahn said that he thought the deal that was offered by the casino would be accepted by union members, but according to UNITE HERE Local 54 President Bob McDevitt, the offer was a “shadow” of what was received by the union from the other three casinos, according to the Press of Atlantic City.
While the cost of living in the Boardwalk city has risen more than 25 percent within the past 12 years, many of the Taj Mahal’s workers have seen raises during that twelve-year period of less than a dollar combined, according to press releases from the union. Servers, housekeepers, and other casino workers at the Atlantic City casino earn an average of less than $12 an hour. Also according to the union, without health care benefits, just about half of the workers at the Taj Mahal are reliant upon subsidized health insurance, while a third of them don’t have any health insurance at all.
Meanwhile, UNITE HERE Local 54 invited the striking workers to bring their kids and families to the picket line on Saturday. Last week, protests were held at Icahn’s Fifth Avenue offices in Manhattan by the striking workers from the Taj Mahal and activists, and after the rally, the group marched on Trump Tower there. The Taj Mahal still bears Trump’s name, but he has no managerial control of the property, having given up any directorship in one of his Atlantic City casino bankruptcies.