Atlantic City Officials Urge Casinos to Increase Wages, Avoid Union Strike

Posted on: June 23, 2022, 07:08h. 

Last updated on: June 23, 2022, 10:32h.

The Atlantic City Council this week passed a resolution calling on the town’s nine casinos to adhere to the union’s primary demand of higher wages for resort workers.

Atlantic City casino union Unite Here
The Atlantic City beach and the town’s casinos in the background. The Atlantic City Council is urging its nine casino resorts to better pay workers amid soaring inflation. The town’s leading union is threatening a strike if they do not. (Image: Shutterstock)

The City Council last night approved Resolution No. 423, a motion in support of Atlantic City casino hotel workers and their union, Unite Here Local 54. The union is amid contract negotiations with the nine resorts after their prior collective bargaining agreements terminated effective June 1.

The casinos are being represented by executives from MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment. Union officials are demanding higher take-home pay, as inflation continues to lessen the dollar’s purchasing power.

Council members have taken the worker’s side. Resolution No. 423 urges casino employers to raise wages and negotiate in good faith to avert a strike.

The Council of the City of Atlantic City support the efforts of Unite Here Local 54 to raise wages and increase staffing at Atlantic City casino hotels and urges the employers to negotiate in good faith with the union to come to a fair agreement that makes real progress on wages and staffing for the benefit of Atlantic City workers and the community as a whole,” the resolution reads.

Union members earlier this month backed the authorization of a strike, should new contracts not be reached by July 1. The potential walkout could coincide with the July Fourth holiday weekend, which is typically one of the casino destination’s busiest times of the year.

Strike Last Resort

Councilor Kaleem Shabazz plans to hold his own news conference this morning expressing his public support of casino workers. But he also hopes the union doesn’t prematurely initiate a strike.

“Our hope is there isn’t a strike,” Shabazz said. “We don’t need that.”

What is needed, the councilmember says, is better compensation for casino laborers. Shabazz says the union’s demands are only to bring such workers into the middle class and provide them with livable wages.

A picket line would hurt workers and the casinos. And in addition to the thousands of July 4 vacationers expected to arrive in town next weekend, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) National Convention is set for July 14-20 at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

The NAACP gathering is forecast to bring more than 8,000 attendees to town and occupy 7,700 casino hotel room nights. The convention’s economic impact is estimated north of $9.3 million.

Strikes Scheduled

Though both sides of the bargaining table say they wish to avoid a strike, Unite Here Local 54 is nonetheless organizing walkouts in anticipation that the casinos will not budge on compensation.

The union says a picket line will form outside Borgata, Caesars, Harrah’s, and Tropicana on Friday, July 1, unless new terms are settled. Unite Here plans to expand the strike to Hard Rock on July 3 if negotiations continue to drag on.

The union claims a recent poll of its members found that 61% reported struggling to pay their rent or mortgage on time at some point during the past year.