Hard Rock negotiations still ongoing

Atlantic City workers union reaches tentative agreements with four casinos to avoid holiday strike

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The Atlantic City casino workers union, Unite Here Local 54, has reached tentative agreements with four casinos Thursday. The Borgata Hotel & Casino, Harrah's, Caesars and Tropicana are now in the clear regarding scheduled strikes at the start of the July 4 holiday weekend. Negotiations with Hard Rock Casino, which faces a Sunday strike deadline, are ongoing.

The Union confirmed the news on Twitter after negotiations finished inside the Palladium Ballroom at Caesars, which along with Harrah’s and Tropicana are owned by Caesars Entertainment.

As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rocco Mahoney, a spokesperson for the union, stated agreements would still need to be ratified by the membership, but no date has yet been set for that.  

“This is the best contract we've ever had,” union president Bob McDevitt told The Associated Press. “We got everything we wanted and everything we needed. The workers delivered a contract that they can be proud of for years to come.”

After seeking salary adjustments with all of the casinos to meet the needs of the workers in times of labor shortages and inflation, the union settled first with Borgata  Thursday evening. 

Contracts for Local 54 workers expired May 31, and about 6,000 casino workers voted on a July 1 strike deadline at the three properties owned by Caesars, plus Borgata. Hard Rock Casino is under a July 3 strike deadline. 

Of Atlantic City’s four other casinos, Bally’s and Ocean committed to accept the terms of the other casinos in a "me-too" agreement and were not under a strike threat. The union had not begun negotiations with Golden Nugget or Resorts, two smaller properties that are also not under threat.  

The union surveyed almost 2,000 Atlantic City casino workers in March and April and found that 61% of respondents reported having struggled to pay their rent or mortgage in the past year, while others said they had trouble affording food, transportation and other utilities. 

“According to the MIT Living Wage calculator, the current living wage in Atlantic County for one adult with no children is $18.83 per hour," the union said in the report, as it contends that despite increases to the minimum wage, the pay of many casino workers has not “kept up” with the rising cost of living. 

As of March, the average wage at the three Atlantic City casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment was about $15.81 per hour for non-tipped workers, and $8.80 for tipped workers, according to the union. The lowest wage for non-tipped workers was $13 per hour.