Bob McDevitt is the President of the Local 54 of Unite-HERE, a union heavily involved in the Atlantic City casino industry. Union workers have been greatly affected by recent issues in Atlantic City including the closing of four casinos in 2014 as well as the benefit cuts at the Taj Mahal. On Friday, McDevitt stated that Atlantic City is no longer able to afford going from one crisis to the next. Instead of rejecting any help from the state, McDevitt believes the city should take the assistance.
The Local 54 President stated that the city is out of easy choices, as everyone has been affected by the free-fall that has been happening for many years now. Despite the issues over the years, Atlantic City is still the primary industry for the southern portion of New Jersey. Tens of thousands of individuals rely on the industry to provide for their families. It is because of the employees that McDevitt believes the city should take the deal.
Local officials however do not want to see the city take the deal. The State Senate President Steve Sweeney introduced a plan that would give the state authority over the major decisions of Atlantic City, including selling city-owned land and assets. Sweeney wants to see the municipal water company and the Bader Field airport property sold to help with budget issues.
Atlantic City has suffered financially since the state of Pennsylvania opened their first casino on the borders of the state. This happened in 2006 and since that time, the casino revenues of Atlantic City have fallen from $5.2 billion annually to $2.5 billion, with thousands of individuals losing employment. Four casinos out of the 12 of the area closed in 2014, which placed around 8,000 individuals out of employment.
City Councilman Kaleem Shabazz decided to write to Sweeney as well as other sponsors of the takeover on Friday, asking for reconsideration on the proposal. Shabazz wants to ensure fairness, equity and precedent for the removal of duly elected municipal officials. The current proposal for takeover would not remove elected officials in a local position from office but would strip most of them of the major powers for decision making.