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Hard Rock deal ends Atlantic City casino strike threat

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – Hard Rock Casino struck a deal Saturday with Atlantic City’s leading casino workers union, eliminating the latest strike threat during the busy holiday weekend and paving the way for gambling halls and their workers who focus on recovery. of financial losses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Local 54 of the Unite Here union said it had reached an interim agreement with Hard Rock, averting a strike that was threatened by 12:01 am. Sunday.

Along with the deals reached Thursday with Borgata, Caesars, Harrah’s and Tropicana, the Hard Rock deal leaves only two smaller casinos, Resorts and Golden Nugget, without a contract. But the union said it expects the two to reach an agreement in the next few days.

Bally’s and Ocean Casino Resort have signed the so-called “me too” agreements pledging to adopt the terms of the agreements the syndicate enters into with the larger casinos. The agreements have yet to be ratified by all union members.

“We are very pleased to have once again been able to reach a successful agreement with Unite Here Local 54 to increase salaries and benefits for our deserving team members,” said Jim Allen, president of Hard Rock International. “We look forward to further expanding this excellent relationship both nationally and locally as we expand our iconic brand.”

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

“We are looking forward to a lively holiday weekend and an amazing summer season,” he said.

The terms of the contract were not immediately made public.

The deals not only prevent what would have been a costly and disruptive strike during one of the busiest weekends of the year for casinos, but ensure workers’ peace in the crucial third summer of the coronavirus pandemic, as casinos are struggling to return. operational. the levels of income and earnings they enjoyed before it started.

In previous contracts, the union had focused on preserving health care and retirement benefits, but this time it sought “significant” wage increases for workers to help them keep up with rising prices for gasoline, food, rent. and other living expenses.

The deals 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 and retirement benefits that were overruled by a court.

The union goes on strike on July 1st of the same year and the casino closes on October 10th. It was sold months later to Hard Rock International, who dismantled 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 sports betting and internet sports betting, online casinos and their partners earned $ 1.8 billion during the first five months of this year. That’s an increase of more than 49% over the same period in 2019, before the coronavirus hit.

But the casinos claim those figures are misleading because third-party partners keep about 70% of internet and sports betting revenue, leaving little for the brick-and-mortar casinos.