Hospitality workers at 5 Atlantic City casinos prepare to strike

Service workers are asking for higher pay and better working conditions.

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Monday, June 27, 2022
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Hospitality workers at four Atlantic City casinos could strike this Friday with another one potentially striking over the holiday weekend. Hard Rock has a strike deadline of Sunday, July 3.

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A casino strike is looming in Atlantic City.

Hospitality workers at four Atlantic City casinos could strike this Friday with another one potentially striking over the holiday weekend.

As negotiations continue, Iris Sanchez, a housekeeper at Caesar's, says it's been frustrating as they ask for higher wages.

"I was renting a two-bedroom for $800, now a two-bedroom is $1,500. And the $16 an hour we are making here is not enough," said Sanchez.

Members of Unite Here Local 54 voted earlier this month to authorize a strike for five casinos after their contract expired on June 1.

Service workers are asking for higher pay and better working conditions.

Caesar's, Harrah's and Tropicana, the three casinos owned by Caesar's Entertainment, have a strike deadline of Friday, July 1. Workers at Borgata, which is operated by MGM Resorts International, are also ready to strike Friday.

Hard Rock has a strike deadline of Sunday, July 3.

According to the union, Borgata, the city's top-performing casino, could lose $1.6 million a day in the event of a strike.

The three casinos owned by Caesar's Entertainment would lose $1 million a day, according to Unite Here.

The union made these projections by assuming a strike would cause a 25% net revenue drop in the third quarter compared to last year.

On Monday, Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. said in a statement: "I am throwing my full support behind the union workers of Unite Here Local 54 as they seek higher wages and the hiring of additional staff during negotiations with their casino employers."

Jane Bokunewicz, from the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University, says while striking on a holiday weekend means workers will miss out on big tips, there are other factors at play.

"The labor shortage does give the union a lot of power," said Bokunewicz, "as does the fact that it's right before the Fourth of July weekend. So that gives them an advantage."

This strike would affect service workers like bartenders, cooks and housekeepers. It does not affect gaming employees like dealers.

"The food and beverage outlets and the hotel will be impacted the worst. But management will try to operate them as much as possible, that's what they have in during the last strike -- with nonunion employees and management employees filling in where they can," said Bokunewicz.

Hard Rock declined to comment on Monday.

Action News didn't hear back from the casinos owned by MGM and Caesar's.