Unite Here Local 54 continues its negotiations with three top Atlantic City casinos to negotiate better employee wages and working conditions. The union gave the casinos an ultimatum until June 1. If the two parties do not manage a deal until then, workers have threatened to go on strike.
A Potential Strike Would Cost Casinos Millions of Dollars
The months-long struggle of workers in the casino industry continues with the support of Local 54 of the Unite Here union. Employees demand significant wage increases to offset the increased cost of living and high inflation. Over 6,000 people working at five major casinos have expressed their readiness to join the strike if their demands are not met.
If negotiations do not reach a satisfactory result, the first planned strike will happen this Friday at the Borgata and three Caesars Entertainment casinos – Caesars, Tropicana, and Harrah’s. Hard Rock Casino faces a similar situation, and if an agreement with the union fails, the establishment will need to endure worker protests. Unite Here estimates that the strikes would cause the Borgata losses of approximately $1.6 million a day, while the three Caesars casinos would suffer a combined setback of another $ 1 million. The planned strikes were scheduled to coincide with the Fourth of July celebrations, a traditionally strong period for casinos.
Average Casino Worker Pay in Atlantic County Is below the Living Wage
Workers participating in the strikes were allowed to apply for reduced-level strike pay from a dedicated fund that Unite Here Local 54 maintains for such occasions. The decision for the strikes passed with an overwhelming 96% majority. Interviews with workers drew attention to the fact that the industry has been steadily recovering after the pandemic, and profits have risen dramatically. However, none of these funds appear to be trickling down to ordinary workers.
According to a recent survey by the union, 61% of Atlantic City casino workers had difficulties paying for rent or a mortgage in 2021, and 32% claimed they had trouble affording necessities such as food. These numbers match official data, which shows that the living wage for a single adult in Atlantic county was $18.83, while the average non-tipped casino worker only received $15.81. The low wages have been one of the main reasons for the high staff shortages in the sector, which translates to an increased workload for existing staff.
Unite Here president Bob McDevitt stated that the ball was in the hands of the casinos, who were fully aware of the union’s demands. McDevitt added that the worker movement was gathering momentum and was determined to follow through with an agreement.
The Atlantic City Council also stands firmly on the side of workers. It passed a unanimous resolution to aid casino employees and urged casino operators to meet the union’s demands and offer their workers fair wages.