Strike Averted – Atlantic City Retail Casino Workers Reach Tentative Agreement

At literally the 11th hour, thousands of Atlantic City retail casino workers reached a tentative agreement with their employers.

That means the following New Jersey retail casinos won’t see picketers marching outside tomorrow:

  • Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa
  • Caesars Atlantic City Resort and Casino
  • Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City
  • Tropicana Atlantic City

At 11:15 p.m. ET today, the union’s spokeswoman Bethany Holmes emailed

4,500 Atlantic City Casino Workers Reach Tentative Agreement with their Employers

Workers at Borgata, Caesars, Harrah’s, and Tropicana avert strike deadline

Atlantic City—Casino Workers at four Atlantic City casinos reached a tentative agreement with their companies late Thursday night, in advance of a July 1 strike deadline. The union’s worker negotiating committee at the MGM-owned Borgata and Caesars Entertainment-owned Caesars, Harrah’s, and Tropicana casinos have approved the agreements and will set a date for a ratification vote from the entire membership soon. A strike deadline remains in effect for Hard Rock casino for July 3 and strike pay signup will begin tomorrow at 8 a.m. on the Boardwalk in front of the property.

Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment owns Caesars, Harrah’s, and Tropicana.

Las Vegas-headquartered MGM Resorts International owns Borgata.

UPDATE: 07/05/2022

Chances are, most Atlantic City visitors this weekend had no idea how close their Fourth of July plans came to complications. About 6,000 retail casino workers were expected to strike.

However, workers from five casinos reached tentative agreements with their employers just in time. Bally’s and Ocean already had agreements with the union.

Holmes sent an update on Saturday afternoon about the Hard Rock strike slated to begin on Sunday.

She said Unite Here Local 54’s contract negotiating committee reached a tentative agreement with the retail casino hierarchy.

That agreement meant 1,500 Hard Rock workers wouldn’t strike.

Like the agreements reached on June 30 with 4,500 workers for Caesars and MGM casinos, she couldn’t discuss details until the contracts were ratified.

Holmes said:

Seven of the nine casinos in Atlantic City now have agreements in place with the union Local 54. Golden Nugget and Resorts have yet to reach new agreements.

So Hard Rock’s tentative agreement meant one of the city’s busiest weekends continued without picket signs.

While the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) didn’t have figures to show today regarding hotel occupancy rates, numbers from May 23 show an uptick in visitors.

On that date, the DGE reported that Q1 2024 yielded a 63.1% Atlantic City casino hotel occupancy rate. That’s 10.7 percentage points higher than it was in Q1 2021.

UPDATE: 07/01/2022

Holmes told that the union couldn’t divulge details about the contracts with the four retail casinos until they’re ratified.

However, she provided the comments from Ruth Ann Joyce.

Joyce, a Harrah’s banquet bartender and member of the worker contract negotiating committee, said:

We’re thrilled with what we have negotiated. It’s a terrific contract. The raises we secured are going to change the retention and recruitment of workers at our casinos, which is what is needed. We’re optimistic for a positive ratification, but our feet are gonna keep moving until Hard Rock gives their workers the same respect. Until that happens, we’re prepared to wear our shoes out.

Holmes added:

A strike deadline of July 3 remains in effect at Hard Rock, and we are out here on the Boardwalk in front of the casino all day signing workers up for strike pay.

Background on the Averted Retail Casino Worker Strike

Seven retail casinos in Atlantic City were slated to be affected by a strike retail casino workers authorized on June 15.

Their union, Unite Here Local 54, represents housekeepers, bartenders, cocktail servers, cooks, bellhops, door attendants, and other service workers in Southern New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.

While that mix doesn’t include dealers, history shows a hospitality worker strike can shut a casino down.

Hard Rock Isn’t Out of the Woods

On Sunday, workers could still strike against the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City.

Workers voted to strike because, on May 31, Local 54 members’ employment contracts expired at all Atlantic City retail casinos. (Except Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel and Casino and Ocean Casino Resort. Those have an agreement in place with the union.)

Therefore, workers at Borgata, Caesar’s, Golden Nugget Atlantic City, Hard Rock, Harrahs, Resorts Casino Hotel, and Tropicana worked without contracts.

Still, Golden Nugget and Resorts are listed by Local 54 as “at risk of dispute.”

Hard Rock workers are awaiting word from their negotiating committee members regarding going on strike.

All of this is happening before the long Fourth of July weekend when retail casinos flood with vacationing gamblers.

Union Member Reactions

Shortly after reaching the agreement today, retail casino workers rejoiced.

A little before midnight, they posted on the Unite Here Local 54 Facebook page:

CONTRACT VICTORY!!! Casino Workers at Borgata and Caesars, Tropicana, and Harrah’s casinos reached a tentative agreement with their companies! Ratification vote coming soon🔥🔥

(A strike deadline remains in effect for Hard Rock casino for July 3)

However, Local 54 members were mindful about their celebration, having reposted this earlier today from their Rhode Island union members.

Local 54 reposted this Facebook post from Local 26:

Breaking: Bally’s Twin River Casino workers cast their ballots from 8am-8pm in Smithfield, Rhode Island, today, and more than 92% have voted YES to authorize a strike if necessary to reach an agreement. The workers’ demands are simple and reasonable: increased staffing, more full-time schedules, and raises to match the increased costs of living.

“Union strong,” exclaimed Christel Andersen in the Local 54 repost’s comments.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is the lead writer at NJ Gambling Sites, concentrating on online casino coverage. In March 2021, Fletcher began writing about online casino gambling as the lead writer for Online Poker Report. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from The Ohio State University, as well as a master's degree in journalism from New York University, and has now shifted to NJ Gambling Sites to lend her expertise.