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Atlantic City Casino Workers Strike

September 15, 1999

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Raucous demonstrators from the ranks of 14,000 striking hotel workers greeted early morning visitors to Atlantic City casinos today.

Members of Local 54 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees International walked off the job at nine casino hotels today after their five-year contract expired at midnight.

Union members reached agreements at three other casinos before the deadline.

Among the targets of the strike is the Trump Taj Mahal. At the entrance this morning, about 100 union members jeered people attempting to drive into parking areas.

``Go to Showboat! Go to Showboat,″ they yelled, because representatives for Showboat Hotel Casino representatives had agreed on a contract.

Officials at the affected casinos vowed to remain open during the walkout, though they said they would have to close some of their restaurants.

Bartenders, banquet waiters, cocktail servers, maids, maitre d’s, cooks and other rank-and-file workers began to disappear as the deadline passed.

Tropicana Casino Resort said today that four of its seven restaurants were closed, with management and non-union workers running the other three. The hotel said it also reduced some guest services, providing room cleaning and linen changes only on request.

Tropicana spokeswoman Maureen Siman said the resort had ``a couple of canceled reservations,″ but they were because of bad weather, not the strike.

Cashiers and dealers are not unionized and are not participating in the work stoppage. The casinos employ between 40,000 and 50,000 people.

The collapse of contract talks Tuesday set the stage for a disruptive strike that also could inconvenience contestants and fans of the Miss America Pageant, scheduled for Saturday.

Union officials said members are satisfied with the terms of the resorts’ latest contract offer, but they demand additionally that bosses stop hiring subcontractors who do not pay union wages.

Union president Bob McDevitt said the casinos failed to live up to the promises made when casino gambling was pitched to New Jersey voters in the 1970s.

Subcontracting ``will erode the community and it will make it difficult in the Atlantic City area for workers to feed their families in the way that was promised by the casino industry,″ McDevitt said.

Workers were striking against the Atlantic City Hilton, Tropicana Casino Resort, Bally’s Park Place, Caesars Atlantic City Hotel Casino, the Sands Hotel Casino, Resorts Atlantic City, Trump Plaza, Trump Marina and Trump Taj Mahal.

Carrying signs, rowdy union members set up picket lines at casino entrances and rallied on the Boardwalk shouting ``No contract, no peace″ and ``Hey, hey, ho, ho, subcontracting must go.″

The pickets were orderly, and no major incidents had been reported as of midmorning, police Sgt. Michael Tullio said.

Union negotiators came to terms with representatives of Harrah’s Casino Hotel, Showboat Hotel Casino and the Claridge Casino Hotel about 90 minutes before the midnight deadline.

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