Bob McDevitt secured another three-year term as president of the Atlantic City casino workers union last Friday, defeating challenger Al Tabei. McDevitt, 57, will remain president of Unite Here Local 54, a position he has held since 1996. He received 932 of the 1,596 votes cast. The winning slate included Vice President Javier Soto and Secretary-Treasurer Donna DeCaprio, both incumbents.
“It’s always good to win,” McDevitt said after the results were announced, as reported by The Press of Atlantic City. Voting at the Atlantic City Convention Center ended Friday at 7 p.m., but officials had to wait on results from polling locations in Cherry Hill, Trenton and Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Tabei, 67, who has challenged McDevitt in five consecutive elections, said he would be contesting the results of the election. He said 152 ballots will be challenged because the members were not up to date with union dues. “The results are questionable at this time,” he said, noting some casinos only allowed members a small window to leave work and vote, which was an issue for some due to long lines at the polls.
Tabei also lamented the low turnout this year, saying it was the lowest turnout ever in the history of Local 54. “That goes to say a lot,” Tabei said. “That is bad for the membership, bad for the city, bad for the community. It’s just bad all the way around.”
Local 54 represents nearly one-third of Atlantic City’s casino and hospitality workers, including restaurant, housekeeping and environmental services employees. McDevitt said Local 54’s focus would now shift to upcoming industrywide bargaining negotiations set to begin in 2020. “Having a win like this” is a good way to go into negotiations, he said.
Although workers at Ocean Casino Resort have not yet voted to become Local 54 members, the expectation is they will before the 2020 bargaining begins. Employees of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City — which opened at the site of the shuttered Taj Mahal in June 2018 — recently voted in favor of unionizing.
Last year, the Atlantic City casino industry reported a third consecutive year of total gaming revenue growth. According to the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, more than USD 2.9 billion in revenue was reported from the resort’s nine casinos. The casino industry also employed more than 30,000 people in 2018 for the first time since 2014.