Atlantic City Casino Union Warns Summer Travelers On Expiring Contracts

Atlantic City Casino Union Warns Summer Travelers On Expiring Contracts

A powerful Atlantic City casino union is warning summer travelers that it might be best to book at a non-gaming hotel property.

Atlantic City casino union contract negotiations
Unite Here Local 54 union members in Atlantic City petition for higher wages in 2011. The casino union is again amid high-stakes negotiations with the nine gaming resorts in town. (Image: AP)

Unite Here Local 54 represents approximately 10,000 employees working at the nine casinos in Atlantic City. Labor contracts are set to expire at each resort effective May 31, 2022.

With negotiations ongoing between the Unite Here chapter and casino representatives, the union added some fuel to the fire by launching a website urging potential travelers to consider booking elsewhere. The union this week debuted an “Atlantic City Travel Alert” webpage that tells planners that the unsettled labor talks could impact their trips.

A labor dispute is possible with an employer if a new contract is not settled or extended,” the union explained on its actravelalert.org webpage.  The union site includes a link to “Find alternative union AC accommodations.”

Non-gaming union hotels in town with labor agreements that are not expiring include the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club, Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel, and Atlantic Palace Suites on the Boardwalk.

Labor Reports

Unite Here is primarily negotiating new labor agreements with officials from MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment. Those two casino companies dominate the Atlantic City gaming market in terms of employment and gaming operations.

Though MGM Resorts operates only one casino in town, Borgata’s workforce numbers the largest of the nine casinos. The Marina District casino counted 4,133 employees at the end of March, according to the most recently released figures from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Caesars Entertainment’s three casinos — Caesars, Harrah’s, and Tropicana — collectively employ 7,000 people. Hard Rock’s workforce in March numbered 3,451 employees, Ocean 2,830, Resorts 1,580, Golden Nugget 1,521, and Bally’s 1,463.

Unite Here Local 54 President Bob McDevitt said earlier this month that the union is seeking a “significant” pay raise for its union workers. The union boss said the goal is to “move our workers more firmly into the middle class.”

The labor negotiations being held in May is no coincidence. The union has a major bargaining advantage with the casinos at this time of the year, as the busy summer season is on the doorstep. Hiring in May and June is traditionally robust, as casinos staff up their outdoor operations.

Website Leverage

The casino union running a website listing non-casino hotel rooms that are still union-run accommodations likely wasn’t well-received by the casinos. McDevitt told the Associated Press that the union is “not threatening anybody,” but is “very serious about leveraging whatever we need to leverage to get our members a good contract.”

The website could be a hint into the negotiations, and that the sides remain at odds just 10 days before the labor agreements are to expire. Of course, the two sides could extend the working conditions to allow more time for new terms to be reached.

Atlantic City casino brick-and-mortar revenue remains below pre-pandemic levels. Through four months in 2021, gross gaming revenue on the nine floors totaled $847.9 million. That’s 17.5% lower than the same four months in 2019.

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