Union Members Protest for Healthcare Benefits From Atlantic City Casinos

  • Unite Here has been paying insurance for casino employees since April
  • The insurance fund will run out by the end of June, leaving employees without coverage
  • Casino operators and the union are currently in discussions to find a solution for employees
Drawing of two black hands holding up sign that says "PROTEST"
Unite Here Local 54 members protested in Atlantic City on Friday, calling on casino operators to provide healthcare benefits during pandemic-forced unemployment. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Caravan protesting insurance issues

Members of the Unite Here Local 54 union held a car caravan protest on Friday, calling on Atlantic City gambling companies to provide casino healthcare benefits. The union has been helping with insurance needs for casino workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but after this month, they will no longer be able to do so. The union and employees want operators like MGM and Caesars to pick up the baton and provide insurance for their workers.

workers left their vehicles and held a rally

Participants of the caravan met at the Atlantic City Expressway, moved through the Atlantic City-Brigantine Connector, and then completed two laps around Harrah’s Resort and the Borgata. The caravan ended at Renaissance Point Boulevard, where workers left their vehicles and held a rally with social distancing measures in place.

Casino healthcare benefits needed

Since mid-March, casinos in Atlantic City have been shut because of the coronavirus pandemic. While businesses are starting to reopen in the state, the gaming facilities remain shut down. Governor Phil Murphy hopes to be able to reopen casinos sometime around July 4, but nothing has been determined.

While the casinos remain closed, employees have been forced to draw unemployment. For health benefits, they have relied on Unite Here to make insurance payments for them since April. The union was able to cover May and June, but the insurance fund it is using will run out at the end of this month. Workers want casino companies to step in and provide benefits once those funds run out.

If a decision cannot be reached by the end of June, the casino workers will be left without insurance.

Leaders of the union are currently in discussions with casino owners to try and work out an agreement that will benefit the employees. If a decision cannot be reached by the end of June, the casino workers will be left without insurance.

Legislative effort

Earlier this week, the New Jersey Senate passed legislation that would provide temporary financial breaks for casinos including gross gaming revenue tax cuts and fee waivers. It now moves on to the Assembly, where a vote is expected soon.

Representatives of the union want lawmakers to put savings from bill, should it become law, towards healthcare coverage for employees.