Atlantic City Casino Union warns travelers about expiring contracts

Posted: May 20, 2022, 7:41 a.m.

Last update: May 20, 2022, 7:59 a.m.

A powerful Atlantic City casino syndicate is warning summer travelers that it might be best to book into a hotel without gambling.

Atlantic City Casino Syndicate Contract Negotiations
Unite Here Members of Atlantic City Local 54 are demanding higher wages in 2011. The casino union is once again in the midst of high-stakes negotiations with the city’s nine gaming resorts. (Picture: PA)

Unite Here Local 54 represents approximately 10,000 employees working at Atlantic City‘s nine casinos. Employment contracts are due to expire at each station beginning May 31, 2022.

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

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

Non-union gambling hotels in the city with labor agreements that do not expire include the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club, the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel, and the Atlantic Palace Suites on the Boardwalk.

Labor reports

Unite Here mainly negotiates new working agreements with officials from MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment. These two casino companies dominate the Atlantic City gaming market in terms of employment and gaming operations.

Although MGM Resorts operates only one casino in town, Borgata’s workforce boasts the largest of the nine casinos. The Marina District casino had 4,133 employees at the end of March, according to the latest figures released by 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 had 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 the union was demanding a “significant” pay rise for its union workers. The union boss said the aim was to “bring our workers more firmly into the middle class”.

The union negotiations taking place in May are no coincidence. The union has a major bargaining advantage with the casinos at this time of year, as the busy summer season is just around the corner. Hiring in May and June has traditionally been strong as casinos ramp up their outside operations.

Operation of the website

The casino syndicate running a website listing non-casino hotel rooms that are still syndicate-run accommodations probably didn’t go down well with the casinos. McDevitt told the Associated press that the union is “not threatening anyone”, but is “very serious about leveraging whatever we need to get a good contract for our members”.

The website could be a clue to the negotiations and the fact that the parties remain at odds just 10 days before the labor agreements expire. Of course, both parties could extend the working conditions to allow more time to reach new terms.

Atlantic City casino revenue remains below pre-pandemic levels. For four months in 2021, gross gaming revenue across the nine floors totaled $847.9 million. This is 17.5% less than the same four months in 2019.