Casino Workers State Their Case
Nat Bender
Striking UNITEHERE workers continue to picket Pacific Avenue and the boardwalk outside the casinos, hotels and restaurants where they usually labor. Starting their fourth week since management walked away from negotiations to settle a contract dispute with the waiters, bartenders and cleaning people, workers called management “greedy,” and promised to press for their demands.

UNITEHERE is striking Harrah’s, Showboat, Resorts, Bally’s, Claridge, Caesar’s, Tropicana and Hilton, challenging managements terms for a five-year contract, allowing for outsourcing new restaurant work, cutting severance pay and increasing employee contributions for health benefits, according to strike captain Dennis Franchi. He explained that the hotels want to extend unfavorable contracts for five years when contracts in Detroit, Las Vegas and Chicago will expire in 2007 for the union. So the Atlantic City workers would be separated from their peers in negotiating their next contract.

The hotels had a job fair to replace striking workers, but Franchi expressed confidence that an eventual settlement would include the return of all striking 10,000 workers with their full seniority. And spirits ran high on the picket line with strikers beating drums and responding to constant car horns, showing solidarity.

The striking hotels are losing business with organized labor groups like the State Police canceling plans to convene in the city. Workers are asking tourists to patronize five hotels where the workers have contracts. UNITEHERE is referring travelers to to rate their hotels based on treatment of workers.

Workers walking the picket line said they hear reports from the inside the strike hotels that the kitchen is “nasty” and guests are being given bed sheets and told to make their own beds. Several complained of media bias from local news sources dependent on the casinos for advertising revenue.


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