Casino workers threaten strike action in Atlantic City
By abigail
In Atlantic City, casino workers are making plans to carry out strike actions following a vote last week amongst union members which favoured this plan of action. 17,000 members of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union voted on commencing strike action, with the vast majority voting in favour. The issue sparking the dissent is the expiration of current contracts, and the demands put in place for the new ones.

If the strike does take place, it will affect 11 of the city’s 12 casinos. The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa will remain untouched by the dispute, as its current contract in place with the Local 54 organisation does not expire until 2007. For the remainder of the casino venues, the union is seeking a new three year contract which will offer better benefits, a successorship clause, and a pledge to end the subcontracting the leasing of casino space to non-union companies. Robert McDevitt, the president of Local 54, the branch of the union concerned with these casinos, stated that all of these demands must be met, as the victory on one of these criteria is meaningless without the others.

Talks were held on Saturday with Trump casinos, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc and Ceasar’s Entertainment Inc. These talks did not result in any progress. At the moment schedules for picket lines are being drafted, although McDevitt has said that the expiration of the current contract will not automatically result in a strike. However if the casino companies do not yield to the current demands on the table, the strike action will be called. The timing of the dispute is a pressing issue for the casino companies, as current contracts are scheduled to expire just four days before the Miss America Pageant.

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