Facing July 4th weekend strike threat

Atlantic City Council passes resolution urging casino employers to raise wages and negotiate to avert strike

Atlantic City’s City Council session on Wednesday.
Reading time 1:52 min

Atlantic City’s City Council unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday in support of the casino workers in their ongoing protest for a fair wage, and “to urge casino employers to raise wages and staffing and negotiate in good faith to avert a strike”. 

Councilman Kaleem Shabazz also held a news conference Thursday in support of casino workers and their union, Unite Here Local 54. “Our hope is there doesn’t have to be a strike. Workers need to make livable wages”. 

Last week, members of the union authorized their negotiating committee to call a July 1 strike against Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, and the three casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment; and a July 3 strike against Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, if new contracts are not in place by then. This decision would include the prospect of disrupting the Fourth of July weekend, which is typically one of the busiest of the year for Atlantic City’s casinos. 

The threat of a strike also takes place as the city prepares to host the national National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) convention on July 14-21. As president of the hosting chapter of the NAACP, Shabazz has a lot riding on the success of the national convention. 

The union seeks significant wage increases in the next contract to help workers deal with financial setbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic and rapidly rising prices. 

In the meantime, Stockton University students have gathered to help fill the pandemic-derived worker shortage in Atlantic City during the summer. 

Bob Ellis, Hard Rock Atlantic City’s vice president of human resources, stated that staffing for the industry has “been a struggle”, and pointed out they are “short 300 bodies”. However, thanks to a new partnership with the university, 145 students have been placed in seasonal jobs in Atlantic City under a new pilot program. The students will be working in many different places in the industry.

Hosting the NAACP convention implies economic benefits for the city, which are expected to be substantial, according to Larry Sieg, executive director of the agency Meet AC. 

“Not only is it going to garner national and international media attention, we are looking at over 8,000 attendees - 7,700-plus room nights for hotel properties, $9.3 million in economic impact”. 

The convention will be held at the Atlantic City Convention Center, and there will be events around the city and at the Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield, according to organizers.

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