Caesars dealers OK 5-year deal with 18 pct raise

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - November 18, 2010

The ratification vote by the United Auto Workers, which was completed Thursday, marks the second contract the union has reached with an Atlantic City casino, following a pact with the Tropicana Casino and Resort in August.

The union is bargaining with management at Bally's Atlantic City and Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, but has yet to reach agreement on deals with those gambling houses.

"Everyone is thrilled, just jubilant," said Kyle Noel, a 26-year Caesars dealer. "We've been waiting for this day for 3 1/2 years. Everybody feels like we have job security now and a bright future. Everyone's been smiling a lot for the past few days."

The union represents nearly 800 dealers at Caesars. The pact was approved by 90 percent of those voting, although the union would not say how many employees cast ballots.

The ratification comes as the tide is beginning to turn on labor relations between the UAW and the casinos. The union began organizing dealers and slots technicians four years ago, and won representation elections at four casinos.

But talks dragged on for years without much progress until this summer, when the union reached a deal with the Tropicana, which had been bought in March by billionaire investor Carl Icahn.

Scott Adams, the union's regional director, said he hopes to conclude contract ratification votes for Tropicana and Caesars slots technicians, then turn its attention to reaching a deal with Bally's Atlantic City, which is owned by the same parent company as Caesars, Harrah's Entertainment Inc.

Joe Ashton, the union's vice president, called the pact "an agreement we clearly are proud of," noting Atlantic City's continuing economic struggles with the sluggish economy and out-of-state competition.

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