Atlantic City runs on labor

Casino Workers Ratify Contract with Historic Wage Increases by 99%, while Others Prepare for Strike Authorization Vote

Casino Workers say, “we’re not finished until we ALL win the raises we deserve!” 

Atlantic City—While workers at five casinos voted 99% “yes” on Monday to ratify new agreements reached with their employers, the worker negotiating committee at Resorts and Golden Nugget casinos announced a Strike Authorization Vote for July 19.  As their contracts expire, casino workers across the city have been fighting for significant wage increases, better housekeeping workload standards and job protections. More than 6,000 casino workers at Hard Rock, MGM-operated Borgata, and Caesars Entertainment-operated Caesars, Harrah’s, and Tropicana are covered by the newly ratified agreements, with an additional 3,000 workers covered by prior agreements signed at Bally’s and Ocean casinos.

Around 1,000 workers at Resorts and Golden Nugget casinos remain without new agreements with their employers. The worker negotiating committee plans to present the new agreements to their employers, asking them to accept the terms already agreed to by their competitors. They also called for a Strike Authorization Vote to take place on July 19, if their employers do not agree to the new citywide standard of wages and working conditions.

The historic four-year agreements ratified Monday provide for substantial wage increases for all classifications, including both tipped and non-tipped employees, retroactive to June 1. “Casino workers have needed raises for a long time,” said Dave Dorfman, cook at Harrah’s and member of the worker negotiating committee.  “Now there is an easier way forward for us and the money will go a long way towards affording my daily expenses.  Next, we need to make sure that Resorts and Golden Nugget workers don’t get left behind.”

Tipped employees also received substantial wage increases in the new agreements. “I’m so excited about this victory!” said Borgata food server Nikki Schwendeman. “This is a well-deserved raise for servers in our industry, and it’s going to make our lives so much easier over the next couple of years. Now it’s time to make sure workers at Resorts and Golden Nugget win the same.”

In addition to raises, the agreements maintain fully funded family healthcare and pension, language that protects jobs and increases work opportunities, and new technology protections. Improvements to housekeeping workloads are also secured: “Our new contract ensures that hotel rooms at Caesars casinos will automatically be cleaned every day,” said Iris Sanchez, a housekeeper at Caesars for 10 years. “With these new cleaning provisions, I’m proud to say that we can maintain Atlantic City as the world-class destination guests expect and deserve.”

With this positive ratification vote behind them, workers now pivot to ensuring Resorts and Golden Nugget casinos sign the same agreements. “We’re thrilled with what the workers were able to win at the other casinos,” said Chen Chan, who works in the Housekeeping Department at Resorts. “And we’re looking forward to the day when we can ratify the same.”

Contact Rocco Mahoney, [email protected], 609-457-2727

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UNITE HERE Local 54 Atlantic City has been representing hospitality workers in the hospitality industry for over 100 years. Our members work as housekeepers, bartenders, cocktail servers, cooks, bellmen, doormen, and other service jobs in the casinos and hospitality industry of South Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. With over 10,000 members, Local 54 is the largest private sector union in the region. Local 54 is an affiliate of UNITE HERE, an international labor union that represents 300,000 working people across North America. 

4,500 Atlantic City Casino Workers Reach Tentative Agreement with their Employers

Workers at Borgata, Caesars, Harrah’s and Tropicana avert strike deadline

Atlantic City—Casino Workers at four Atlantic City casinos reached a tentative agreement with their companies late Thursday night, in advance of a July 1 strike deadline. The union’s worker negotiating committee at the MGM-owned Borgata and Caesars Entertainment-owned Caesars, Harrah’s and Tropicana casinos have approved the agreements and will set a date for a ratification vote from the entire membership soon. A strike deadline remains in effect for Hard Rock casino for July 3 and strike pay signup will begin tomorrow at 8am on the Boardwalk in front of the property.

Contact: Bethany Holmes, [email protected], 213-675-0905

Atlantic City Casino Workers Vote 96% “YES” to Strike

After picketing on the Boardwalk for higher wages, workers vote overwhelmingly in favor of strike authorization 

Atlantic City— Yesterday evening at 7:38pm, UNITE HERE Local 54 announced that members from Caesars, Tropicana, Harrah’s, Borgata, and Hard Rock casinos voted 96% “yes” to authorize a strike, if called by the worker negotiating committee. The negotiating committee then set a strike deadline of July 1 if an agreement is not reached with Caesars, Harrah’s, Tropicana, and Borgata, and July 3 for Hard Rock. Workers flooded the Convention Center today between 8am-7pm to cast their ballots with the results revealed at a press conference held shortly after the polls closed and ballots were counted.

Over the years, casino workers have sacrificed wage increases for the health of the industry. Workers have persevered though casino closures, Hurricane Sandy, and a global pandemic. Now, they’re falling behind. As industry’s profits and gaming revenues surpass pre- pandemic levels, wages for Atlantic City’s casino workers have not kept pace.

In a recent UNITE HERE survey of 1,934 casino workers, 61% reported they struggled to pay their rent or mortgage on time in the past year. 32% reported they lacked money for food, and 37% for utilities. Click here to read full report: Atlantic City Casino Workers Need a Raise.

After contracts expired on May 31, workers picketed on the Boardwalk to demand the raises they urgently need and deserve. The vote puts the decision of whether and when to strike in the hands of the worker negotiating committee, which is made up of hundreds of workers from all nine casinos.

“We can’t wait and hope that the companies will do the right thing,” said Nikki Schwendeman, a Borgata Food Server who’s been in the industry for 38 years. “They need to know that we’re serious about winning the raises we deserve. That’s why I joined thousands of other members and voted yes to authorize a strike today.”

Members of the worker negotiating committee are available for interviews. Please call to coordinate. The Press Conference was livestreamed on Facebook and is available on the UNITE HERE Local 54 Facebook page.

Contact: Bethany Holmes, 213-675-0905, [email protected]

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UNITE HERE Local 54 Atlantic City has been representing hospitality workers in the hospitality industry for over 100 years. Our members work as housekeepers, bartenders, cocktail servers, cooks, bellmen, doormen, and other service jobs in the casinos and hospitality industry of South Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. With over 10,000 members, Local 54 is the largest private sector union in the region. Local 54 is an affiliate of UNITE HERE, an international labor union that represents 300,000 working people across North America.