Union Issues Labor Dispute Warning Over Soon-to-Expire Atlantic City Casino Contracts

  • The deadline to sign new contracts is May 31
  • Local 54 union wants to secure a significant wage increase for casino workers
  • The union is not afraid to leverage its power to secure good contracts for its members
  • It is currently in negotiations with primarily Caesars and MGM
Artist's concept drawing of a labor strike
The main casino workers union in Atlantic City has warned about a potential labor dispute if contract negotiations with the casinos aren’t satisfactory. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Possible stoppages

The main casino workers union in Atlantic City has warned of a possible labor dispute if there is no agreement on soon-to-expire casino contracts. The current deadline to sign new contracts is May 31. The warning comes at a time that is usually very busy for the region’s casinos; if a labor dispute ends up happening, it could cause disruption for people planning to visit the city.

union is looking to secure “significant” wage increases

The Unite Here Local 54 union does not want its workers to suffer at a time when inflation is running rife and labor shortages in other sectors are leading to higher wages. The union is looking to secure “significant” wage increases as part of the new contracts. While it did not publicly reveal the exact size of the increase, it did maintain that a boost in wages would help workers to continue to recover from pandemic-related financial harm.

The potential for significant action

The union is currently in negotiations with nine casinos in Atlantic City. It has created a website detailing those alternative hotels that people might want to use if new contracts are not signed. The site also displays a photo of union members on strike in 2016 outside of what used to be the Trump Taj Mahal casino during a labor dispute over stripped pension and health insurance benefits. The property is now the Hard Rock under new ownership.

Atlantic City casinos had to close for about three and a half months during the pandemic and then operate under significant restrictions up until mid-2021.

Speaking about the contracts situation, Local 54 union president Bob McDevitt said: “We’re not threatening anybody. But we’re very serious about leveraging whatever we need to leverage to get our members a good contract.”

Ongoing negotiations

Local 54 is now mainly in the midst of negotiations with Caesars Entertainment, the owner of three casinos in the city, as well as MGM Resorts International which has one casino in Atlantic City.

The union already has an agreement in place with Bally’s and Ocean Casino Resort in which the two casinos will agree to the contract terms to which the union ultimately agrees with MGM and Caesars. McDevitt wants Caesars and MGM to be fully aware of the possible consequences of a labor dispute.

Atlantic City’s casinos have bounced back strongly

Atlantic City’s casinos have bounced back strongly following their struggles during much of the pandemic. Last month, the collective in-person gambling revenue for all the casinos was greater than pre-pandemic April 2019 levels. The casinos are now hoping to have a good summer in order to continue posting strong results. However, they are also currently battling against calls from casino workers to introduce a total smoking ban indoors.

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