The Atlantic City casinos want the union members (currently making about $12 an hour) to take a cut in pay of 25 percent. They are also, for the first time, asking union members to contribute to their own health care and pension benefits.
“It’s clear to me that the industry has definitely walked away from its commitment to both the state and the local economy that these would be good-paying jobs with good benefits,” Local 54 President Bob McDevitt said. “It’s really up to the community and the union to hold their feet to the fire to make sure they don’t do that.”
Those familiar with the Atlantic City market believe the cuts are needed because the city’s gaming revenue has decreased 30 percent from a high of $5.2 billion in 2006 to $3.6 billion in 2010.
“All the prior union contracts were negotiated in a monopolistic environment in Atlantic City,” said Harvey Perkins, who is the executive vice president of casino consulting firm Spectrum Gaming Group, located in Linwood. “Atlantic City no longer has a monopoly on East Coast gaming. So it’s reasonable to assume, given the market dynamics that currently exist, that some economic adjustments may have to take place within the contracts.”
Contracts at nine of the 10 casinos expired on September 15. Meanwhile, Resorts Casino Hotel is negotiating its own agreement because new owners took over the company last December. However, Resorts is not facing a deadline because the union says it is willing to continue to bargain and put any possible plans to strike on hold.