By Harvey Hoffman
Workers at five Atlantic City casinos have ratified new contracts giving them significant raises, and are now turning their attention to the two that have yet to settle, their union said yesterday, according to the AP.
Officials with Local 54 of the Unite Here union said 99% of workers who voted in ratification elections Monday approved the new pacts, under which housekeeping employees will immediately see their hourly salary increased to $18, up from varying levels at different casinos.
Their pay will increase to $22 per hour at the end of the four-year contract.
“It’s hard to sell a housekeeping job at $16 an hour,” said union president Bob McDevitt. “It’s a lot easier to sell one at $20 or $22 an hour.”
“Casino workers have needed raises for a long time,” added 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.”
The union plans to vote July 19 on whether to authorize a strike at those two casinos if new deals are not reached by then.
McDevitt said the union has not yet negotiated with Resorts or Golden Nugget. Executives at both those casinos declined comment Tuesday.
McDevitt said the strike authorization vote is a way to prepare for the possibility that a work stoppage may be needed.
“We don’t want to be in the last weeks of summer and staring at Labor Day weekend without a new contract,” he said.
In addition to raises, the agreements maintain fully-funded family health care and pension benefits, language that protects jobs and increases work opportunities, and new technology protections, the union said.
The union reached agreements on new contracts shortly before early July strike deadlines with the Borgata, Caesars, Harrah’s, Tropicana and Hard Rock. Two other casinos, Bally’s and the Ocean Casino Resort, agreed to so-called “me-too” deals, committing themselves to adopt the terms of contracts reached by some of the larger properties in the city.