Settlement Ends Violent Casino Strike in Atlantic City
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ A violent, 35-hour strike by 13,000 casino employees ended Wednesday when negotiators reached a settlement and sent workers back to their sinks, bars, stoves and brooms in seven gaming halls.
Workers at an eighth casino hotel, which was bargaining separately with the union, also returned to work although a contract agreement had not been reached.
Police said 33 people had been arrested and 54 people injured, including two who were hospitalized in stable condition with head injuries.
Mobs that apparently included strikers and juveniles threw rocks and bottles through casino windows, blocked traffic and disabled vehicles, and tossed eggs at gamblers after the walkout began at midnight Monday.
Negotiations, which reached an impasse late last week, had resumed Tuesday night under federal court order after striking workers were called off picket lines by union President Roy Silbert in an effort to quell the unrest on the streets surrounding some casinos.
Union and casino officials said workers began returning to their jobs immediately after the agreement was approved by the union’s 99-member negotiating committee and shop stewards at midmorning Wednesday.
State mediator John Tesauro said the proposed three-year agreement, which must be ratified by mail by members of Local 54 of the Hotel and Restaurant Workers and Bartenders International, calls for an average 2.9 percent wage increase per year for all workers.
Hourly wages vary among the employees and are much lower for tipped workers. Bellhops, for example, were making $4.12 an hour while cooks and butchers earned $9.91.
The union and the Atlantic City Casino Association, which bargained on behalf of seven of the eight affected hotels, agreed to continue current benefits, Tesauro said.
The Atlantis Casino Hotel, which last year filed for protection from creditors under federal bankruptcy laws, is not part of the association and was negotiating separately with Local 54, said Atlantis spokesman Bob Arrow.
Local 54 employees began reporting to work Wednesday although a contract settlement had not been reached, Arrow said.
The walkout, the first against Atlantic City’s gaming industry by Local 54, its largest union, stemmed from a dispute over wages and benefits. Local 54′s members make up about one-third of the work force in the city’s 11 casinos.
Thomas Carver, president of the Atlantic City Casino Association, called the strike ″one of the most reprehensible displays of union violence in the last decade″ and said photographs and videotapes of strikers would be reviewed and those committing illegal acts would be disciplined.
Union members claimed the violence mostly was the work of non-members.
Within 30 minutes after the strike began, an estimated 3,000 pickets were on the streets around the casinos in this island resort. Windows at the Sands Hotel, Casino & Country Club, were broken.
Several hundred people blocked a bus carrying other employees to work, pulled off its hood, ripped out cables, and smashed windows.
During the day Tuesday, gamblers on bus trips were let off several blocks from the affected casinos and some had to dodge eggs thrown by pickets. Vehicles were blocked and rocked by pickets.
In the evening, an estimated 600 to 750 people marched to Resorts International Casino Hotel and threw rocks and bottles through plate-glass windows into the lobby.
Tuesday evening, police declared a state of emergency in the beach-front block, and called in off-duty officers and reinforcements from other law enforcement agencies.
However, the streets were quiet within three hours as a result of Silbert’s order to end picketing, which came after a federal judge declared the job action illegal.
A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge on Monday signed an injunction against the union striking the Atlantis, but it also went unheeded.
A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge signed an injunction Monday against the union striking the Atlantis, but it also went unheeded.
Three casinos were not affected by the strike because they told the union they would sign the best contract Local 54 could negotiate with the association. They were Trump’s Castle Hotel & Casino, Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino, and Del Webb’s Claridge Casino Hotel.
Those affected by the strike were Atlantis, Resorts, Atlantis, Sands, Caesars Atlantic City, Bally’s Park Place, Golden Nugget, Tropicana Hotel and Casino, and Harrah’s Marina.