Hard Rock deal ends threat of strike at Atlantic City casinos | Health, Medicine and Fitness

By WAYNE PARRY – Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (AP) — Hard Rock Casino on Saturday reached an agreement with the main union for Atlantic City casino workers, removing the latest strike threat over the busy holiday weekend and clearing the way for the halls gaming companies and their workers to focus on bouncing back from financial losses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Local 54 of the Unite Here union said it had reached a tentative agreement with Hard Rock, averting a strike that was threatened at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

Combined with Thursday’s deals with Borgata, Caesars, Harrah’s and Tropicana, the Hard Rock deal leaves only two small casinos, Resorts and the Golden Nugget, without a contract. But the union said it expects them both to agree in the coming days.

Bally’s and the Ocean Casino Resort have signed so-called “me too” agreements pledging to adopt the terms of contracts the union has made with the biggest casinos.

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The agreements still need to be ratified by all union members.

“We are extremely pleased to have once again been able to reach a successful settlement with Unite Here Local 54 to increase the salaries and benefits of our deserving team members,” said Jim Allen, President of Hard Rock International. “We look forward to further developing this great relationship nationally and locally as we grow our iconic brand.”

Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Atlantic City, said the deal allows the casino to focus on performing well during peak tourist season.

“We look forward to a vibrant holiday weekend and a terrific summer season,” he said.

The terms of the contract were not immediately made public.

The agreements not only avert what would have been a costly and disruptive strike during one of the busiest weekends of the year for casinos, but they ensure labor peace during the crucial third summer of the coronavirus pandemic. coronavirus, as casinos struggle to return to the revenue and profit levels they enjoyed before the start.

In past contracts, the union has focused on preserving health care and pension benefits, but this time it has demanded “significant” wage increases for workers to help them keep up with the pace of change. soaring prices for gas, food, rent and other living expenses.

The agreements averted what would have been the city’s first casino strike since 2016, when the union rejected billionaire Carl Icahn’s demands that the Trump Taj Mahal casino operate without health care or pension benefits, which have been terminated by a bankruptcy court.

The union went on strike on July 1 of that year, and the casino closed on October 10. It was sold months later to Hard Rock International, who gutted it and reopened it as the new Hard Rock Atlantic City in June 2018.

The finances underlying the current dispute are complex.

Including revenue from internet gambling and sports betting, casinos and their online partners earned $1.8 billion in the first five months of this year. That’s an increase of more than 49% from the same period in 2019, before the coronavirus hit.

But casinos say these numbers are misleading, as third-party partners keep around 70% of sports and internet betting revenue, leaving brick-and-mortar casinos little.

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