Atlantic City Casino Workers Secure ‘Big Raises’ as Deal Forestalls Mass Strikes

  • Four AC casinos have agreed to raises for their workers, averting a mass strike this weekend
  • Hard Rock remains the sole Atlantic City casino with a Sunday strike deadline looming
  • Unite Here declared that “workers delivered a contract that they can be proud of for years”
  • Harrah’s housekeeper Ronnette Lark said the pay hike was the biggest in her 24-year career
Striking casino staff New Jersey
Four Atlantic City casinos have avoided a repeat of a 2016 worker strike by Atlantic City casino workers (pictured above) by agreeing to give their staff pay rises. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A successful campaign

Casino workers in Atlantic City are congratulating themselves on a successful high-profile protest campaign demanding increased pay.

new contracts ensuring raises for employees

The Unite Here Local 54 union and four AC casinos tentatively agreed Thursday on new contracts ensuring raises for employees. The agreement has forestalled a potentially costly strike scheduled to start July 1. Unite Here Local 54 took to Twitter Friday to share news of its “contract victory:”

According to ABC News, representatives for the four casinos — Borgata Casino, Harrah’s, Tropicana, and Caesars Atlantic City — sat down with union members until 11pm Thursday to reach the strike-averting deal.

As a result of the agreement, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino remains the sole Atlantic City casino with a Sunday strike deadline looming ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, a typically profitable period for AC casinos. ABC posits, however, that Hard Rock is likely to follow suit and agree to a deal of its own.

Joy for workers

Unite Here president Bob McDevitt was upbeat after reaching agreements with the casinos late Thursday. He told reporters: “We got everything we wanted and everything we needed. The workers delivered a contract that they can be proud of for years to come,” adding:

This is the best contract we’ve ever had.”

Workers like Ronnette Lark, a housekeeper at Harrah’s for 24 years, concurred. She said that throughout her time at Harrah’s: “We’ve never gotten a raise like this. We got big raises.”

The union did not, however, disclose any terms of the settlement. Unite Here said the deal first needed to be ratified by its full membership before taking effect. According to ABC, representatives from the four AC casinos “did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the agreements.”

Show me the money

While the union did not make the financial details of the new contracts public, it did say it had been pursuing a “significant” hike in raises, much larger than in previous years.

The pandemic is one factor that has led to the pay increase demands, with the Atlantic City gaming industry the main driver for the region’s post-pandemic recovery. Other reasons for the raise demands include price increases for rent, food, gasoline, and general living expenses.

According to Unite Here, casino revenue losses for Caesars and MGM properties could have reached approximately $1m per day had the strikes gone ahead over the Fourth of July weekend.