Atlantic City casino workers picket for pay rises

Atlantic City casino workers picket for pay rises

Casino workers in Atlantic City gathered in front of the Tropicana casino demanding increased paychecks.

US.- Hundreds of Atlantic City casino workers gathered outside the Tropicana casino pushing for new contracts with significant pay rises. Existing contracts with eight of the nine casinos in Atlantic City expired on May 31. The union has been negotiating for over a month.

Unite Here Local 54, a union representing over 10,000 Atlantic City casino workers, is demanding a few specifics in the new contract, including a pay rise. It says it wants to keep workers from falling behind in an economy where labour shortages are increasing salaries in other industries and inflation is eating away at consumers’ purchasing power.

Union leaders and workers said they will demonstrate as often as necessary to show the casinos they’re serious about their demands.

“We are united, we are ready to fight, and we have very specific asks in a new contract, number one of which is a raise that matters,” said union president Bob McDevitt. “Our hope is the individual casinos will recognize that these are really big numbers that they are racking up, and that the workers have not had a cost-of-living raise in a while.”

The union released a survey of 1,934 of its members that showed 61 per cent reported struggling to pay their rent or mortgage on time in the past year. Some 32 per cent reported they lacked money for food, 37 per cent lacked enough for utilities and 27 per cent for transportation.

The union has been negotiating with Caesars Entertainment, which owns Caesars, Harrah’s and the Tropicana, as well as MGM Resorts International, which owns the Borgata. 

See also: Atlantic City dealers’ union supports calls for casino smoking ban

According to McDevitt, the casino industry has seen strong performances in the internet gambling and sports betting industries. The state Division of Gaming Enforcement said that last year the casinos won over $4.2bn in combined casino, online and sports betting revenue.

Casino executives, however, have said the online and sports betting revenue streams are not what they seem because the casinos only keep about 30 per cent of that money, with the rest going to third-party providers.

They argue that money won from in-person gamblers on their premises is a truer indication of the health of the industry. Last year’s in-person revenue figure was $2.5bn, which is below the level of 2019, before the pandemic hit.

See also: Atlantic City casinos show revenue growth in Q1

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