Atlantic City Union Accuses Caesars of Ignoring COVID-19 Safety Protocols

Posted on: August 6, 2020, 09:23h. 

Last updated on: August 7, 2020, 09:38h.

Unite Here Local 54, the union which represents most casino workers in Atlantic City, says that Caesars Entertainment is ignoring New Jersey’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, and thus disregarding the well-being of its employees.

Atlantic City union COVID-19 Caesars
Guests and employees stand around a craps table at the Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City on July 2, 2020. (Image: Seth Wenig/AP)

According to the union, the four Caesars properties are not conducting temperature checks on guests. Instead, they are only conducting verbal screenings. Unite Here also alleges that management has failed to enforce social distancing and mask-wearing policies.

People are not wearing masks, people are wearing masks down below their nose, not wearing it properly, and when you ask them to wear it they really don’t like to comply,” Harrah’s bartender Jason McKnight said during a virtual press conference. “You’re definitely fighting an uphill battle. I don’t see security guards, managers, or anyone else going around and enforcing it.”

Caesars owns four of the nine casinos in Atlantic City today, including Bally’s, Caesars, Harrah’s, and the Tropicana.

Mixed Messages 

The union’s secretary and treasurer, Donna DeCaprio, told reporters that other Atlantic City casinos are performing better when it comes to enforcement. The Borgata, Golden Nugget, Hard Rock, and Resorts casinos have all been administering temperature checks on guests. Ocean Resort Casino has performed only verbal checks, but has taken steps towards being in compliance with regulations, according to DeCaprio.

Still, the alleged lax enforcement of safety standards shows a disregard for employee health, the union says.

“We can’t rely on these companies to do the right thing,” DeCaprio said. “The workers are at risk and they need to be protected.”

Differing Protocols

Some Atlantic City casino employees find the supposed disregard for state regulations particularly disappointing because of the steps they must take to go to work.

I go in every day. I get my temperature checked,” Tropicana bartender Janey Negron told reporters. “So, you’re protecting the guests from me, but I’m not being protected?”

The union also claims it has documented 75 cases in which Atlantic City resorts failed to thoroughly clean hotel rooms on a daily basis, which state regulations require.

Caesars fired back at the allegations, saying that they are fully complying with all health and safety protocols.

“In addition to our enhanced cleaning protocols and other requirements that apply to our valued team members, all of our guests must pass a screening process before being allowed into our properties, and must wear face masks in compliance with the governor’s orders,” Caesars regional president Steve Callender said in a statement.

The state of New Jersey allowed Atlantic City casinos to reopen with a reduced capacity of guests on July 2. However, the venues were required to follow health and safety protocols to do so. Most resorts chose to reopen on that date, while the Borgata waited until July 26 to invite guests back.