With the busiest holiday weekend for Atlantic City just two days away negotiations continue, but it’s looking increasingly like workers will be on the picket line on Friday.
That’s the latest word from Bob McDevitt, UNITE HERE Local 54’s president. After contract talks on Tuesday with the five New Jersey casinos that could be affected, including Caesars, Harrah’s, Bally’s, Tropicana Atlantic City, and the Taj Mahal, McDevitt told NJTV News that the almost unanimous vote to strike helped to motivate negotiators.
On June 16, 96% of the workers from Atlantic City’s Tropicana, Bally’s, Harrah’s, and Caesars voted to authorize a strike if new labor contracts aren’t in hand by July 1. Workers want the part of its package the union gave up during contract talks in 2011 when the casinos were struggling, to be restored. That includes upwards of a week of paid vacation. In addition, workers want their wages to be increased by $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.
McDevitt said that while July 1 is the strike deadline, if progress is being made negotiations will continue right into the early hours. That being said, sometime on Friday the union will ask casino representatives for a last, best offer, McDevitt warned. Workers will be at their respective positions this weekend at those casinos who reach an agreement, but those who fail to put an acceptable offer on the table will be faced with a walk out. McDevitt told the news outlet, “It’s really their [the casinos’] choice. If they want to put a bullshit contract on the table, then they’ll get a strike so it’s really their choice. The folks who work in Atlantic City are much more prepared to be on strike and sacrifice than a bunch of Wall Street fat cats who’ve been doing nothing but sucking money out of Atlantic City for last 10 years.”
Yesterday, union members trained to be strike captains and picked up their strike cards. McDevitt said that while nobody wants the strike to happen if it does the picket captains will be prepared and will remind workers to be mindful of police and obey them. He said that any behavior that deviates from that would be counterproductive.
Today, talks will continue with Tropicana and Caesars and on Thursday with the Trump Taj Mahal.
Atlantic City casinos gross more during the months of July and August than any other time of the year, with higher room rates and rooms being fully booked.