Atlantic City Casino Contracts Expire, Workers Union to Picket

  • Unite Here Local 54 union members will picket outside of the Tropicana casino on Wednesday
  • The main negotiations have been with MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment
  • The union is looking for a “significant” wage increase for workers amid rising inflation
  • Local 54 has held effective strikes and walkouts in the past
The main casino workers union in Atlantic City is planning to picket outside of the Tropicana casino after labor contracts expired without any progress on new deals. [Image:]

No end in sight

Despite lengthy negotiations, there was no compromise reached between Atlantic City casinos and the main casino workers union in the region regarding now-expired contracts. As a result, Unite Here Local 54 union members plan to picket outside of the Atlantic City Tropicana casino on Wednesday evening.

expired on Wednesday at 12:01am

The contracts that the union had with each of the nine casinos in Atlantic City expired on Wednesday at 12:01am. The main focus of the negotiations was with MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, with the two companies owning three of the city’s casinos. Most of the other casino owners were happy to go ahead with whatever deal the two big casino companies reached with the Local 54 union. 

Seeking a wage increase

Talking about the breakdown in negotiations, union president Bob McDevitt told the Associated Press: “We have a long way to go before we get a contract. We’re not far enough down the road for me to give you any kind of a prediction yet.”

Neither MGM Resorts nor Caesars Entertainment have commented. 

Before an official union walkout could take place, there would need to be a vote on the matter. McDevitt has revealed that there is no such vote in the cards as of yet. Negotiations have been active for more than a month, with the union looking to secure “significant” wage increases. 

The union has not provided specifics to the media on how much of an increase it is seeking, but it has mentioned that it wants to protect workers who are dealing with high inflation. In the past, pensions and wide-ranging health insurance have been more of a priority for the Local 54 union over wage increases. McDevitt has cited the strong bounce back that the Atlantic City casino sector has experienced since pandemic-enforced closures as a reason why casinos can afford the wage increase. He has also pointed out the success of online gambling and sports betting in the state. 

Not afraid to take action

A survey that the union released in early May from 1,934 of the union’s members showed that 61% of them were finding it hard to pay their mortgage or rent on time over the past 12 months. Many of them also struggled to pay for food, utilities, and transportation.

Accroding to official data, Atlantic City casinos profited by a combined $4.2bn last year from its casino, sports betting, and online gambling segments.

This is not the first time that the union has had issues with Atlantic City casinos. It held a 34-day strike in 2004 and workers at the former Trump Taj Mahal walked out in July 2016. The casino subsequently closed down that October and has since been reopened as the Hard Rock under different ownership. 

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