Four AC Casinos Reach Deal, Trump Taj Mahal Faces Strike

UPDATE: Casino Workers to Strike Against Trump Taj Mahal

By Brenda Flanagan

“We’re hoping that the companies come to their senses and realize this is not what they want,” said Jason McKnight.

Happily for Harrah’s employee McKnight, four casinos did avoid a threatened strike by casino union workers. UNITE HERE Local 54 reports it reached a tentative contract agreement after an all-night bargaining session with reps from Caesars Entertainment’s Atlantic City properties — Harrah’s, Caesars and Bally’s and later today at Tropicana. Some 5,000 union cooks, waiters, bartenders and housekeepers breathed a sigh of relief.

“At the end of the day, the workers in these buildings are the reason these people come here, the reason these people spend their vacations here,” McKnight said.

Earlier today Union President Bob McDevitt said, “We are glad that Caesars Entertainment recognized the importance of fair wages and benefits to the workers in Atlantic City. I hope that Tropicana and Taj Mahal get the message.” Obviously Tropicana did. As negotiations with the Taj continue, that message — printed on signs piled in the union’s headquarters — can’t be more clear.

“I will be a strike captain, out on the line either on Pacific Avenue or on the boardwalk,” said Elaine Malloy.

Cocktail server Malloy will walk that line in solidarity — at Taj  — even though her employer, Bally’s, settled this morning. Maps will help picketers organize. Bullhorns make them hard to ignore. Malloy remembers the last casino workers’ strike — October 2004.

“I was out on the picket line for over 30 days, and I had my two youngest children out there with me. To have to do that again? If it has to be done, it has to be done,” she said.

Are they going to be actively trying to dissuade customers from patronizing the casinos?

“Well of course. Obviously we don’t recommend the customers come, and it’s not even just because we’re on the line. It’s about you’re not going to have the experience that you deserve to have,” McKnight said.

Even if it involves just one casinos, a strike could cost Atlantic City extra money it’s loathe to spend if police need to patrol picket lines. It could cost even more in terms of bad publicity as the city scrambles to regain its financial balance. The casinos have commented they want an agreement that’s fair to both sides. But Council President Marty Small sympathized.

“This is the little people. They pour our coffee, they make our beds, they park our cars. I understand. So I mean we need to keep that in mind and hopefully cooler heads prevail. I’m very optimistic at the end of the day, there’ll be a Kumbaya moment,” he said.

The union says if negotiations look promising they’ll keep talking through the midnight strike deadline but if it stalls, expect to see picket lines tomorrow in Atlantic City.