ocal 54 of UNITE-HERE, which brought the nation's second-largest gambling resort to its knees with a with a 34-day strike five years ago, approved the new two-year deal by a 97 % margin, union president Robert McDevitt said.
The deal calls for hourly increases of 35 cents to us$ 1 for all but the highest-paid workers. Those workers will be able to negotiate for raises a year from now. "The most important thing here is the health care is in place," he said. "The company agreed to pick up all increases in health care (premiums), sight unseen."
The deal affects Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City, Bally's Atlantic City, and the Showboat Casino Hotel. But it is expected to become the blueprint for deals with the remaining six casinos that are not yet under contract. McDevitt said the union has "no interest in negotiating changes now that we have an approved contract."
But he said the bargaining committee was careful to ask for a deal that would be acceptable to all 11 of the city's casinos. The union has an existing contract in place with the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
McDevitt said Trump Entertainment Resorts, which has three casinos here and is operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, is studying the deal reached with the four Harrah's Entertainment Inc. casinos.
In his praise of the deal, Don Marrandino, the Eastern Division president of Harrah's, appeared to refer indirectly to tortured negotiations with the United Auto Workers involving dealers, which have degenerated into a costly, bitter fight that is scaring away customers.
Two and a half years after the union won representation elections at four Atlantic City casinos, it has yet to sign a contract with any of them. "Harrah's is proud of its record as a responsible union partner as further evidenced by this contract which was developed and agreed to in just a few short weeks and without disruption to the business and employees," he said.