Atlantic City Could See Casino Workers Strike July 1

Atlantic City has experienced many struggles over the past few years, and they might be nearing one more: a strike by casino workers on July 1.

This threat has been looming for months, and the fact that Atlantic City casinos finally had a successful year in 2015 has only increased the standoff.

As we reported in April, the city’s casinos made a $547 million profit together in 2015. The good news is that this halted a revenue slide that’s been going on since 2007. The bad news is that workers, tired of taking cutbacks for casinos, want to share in the wealth and are willing to strike for it.

If the strike happens, 6,000 casinos workers will be staying home, meaning casinos will need somebody else to prepare food, clean rooms, and deal games.

Forbes reports that Local 54 of Unite-HERE, the casino workers’ main union, say that a strike is very likely against at least one main casino, which would indicate Caesars, Bally’s, Harrah’s, Tropicana or Trump Taj Mahal. Local 54 wants workers to be compensated since they agreed to so many cutbacks when casinos were struggling.

The union pointed out that the Trump Taj Mahal slashed health care and benefits for its employees, under the direction of billionaire Carl Icahn. If a strike indeed happens on July 1, the Taj Mahal is a very likely target.

Aside from health care and pensions at the Trump Taj Mahal, Local 54 is also fighting for increased wages at other casinos.

“People are not going to work for 10 years without a wage increase,” said Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54 of Unite-HERE, which is leading the charge against the aforementioned casinos. “We’re not in a Stalinist state where you can force workers to work for whatever you say.”

McDevitt added that the workers have only seen their salaries increase by $0.08 since 2004. This was accepted during a dark point when four Atlantic City casinos folded in one year. But after a year that saw seven out of the remaining eight casinos pull in a large profit, workers want higher wages.

Besides the profit, Matt Levinson, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, provided further evidence that casinos are in the midst of a turnaround.

“The market is stabilizing after several years of turmoil,” said Levinson, “every single operator reported a very solid performance for the year.”

The only casinos that appear safe from the strike right now are the Borgata, Resorts Casino Hotel and Golden Nugget. Forbes reports that there’s been no discussion about striking at these casinos so far.