Workers at Golden Nugget and Resorts vote to authorize a strike

Strike authorization votes being counted at Unite Here Local 54 in Atlantic City. (P. Kenneth Burns/WHYY)

Strike authorization votes being counted at Unite Here Local 54 in Atlantic City. (P. Kenneth Burns/WHYY)

Workers at Golden Nugget and Resorts casinos in Atlantic City have put the possibility of a strike on the table as they prepare to resume negotiations with management.

The labor action was authorized Tuesday by 97% of the workers, who are members of Unite Here Local 54. A strike deadline of July 30 has been set.

For the workers, it comes down to a raise, a significant one.

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Ana De La Cruz, a cocktail server at Resorts, said she has received one 50 cent raise during the 11 years she worked for the company. The raise, which happened earlier this year, has since been eaten up by inflation.

“It has been rough, everything is higher,” she said. “We’re not making enough.”

There was a steady flow of people who came to the union hall on Atlantic Avenue to cast their vote, by midday. Foot traffic picked up in the afternoon, as many workers were just coming off of their shifts.

Members are ready to go on strike, if needed, in order to get a deal similar to one ratified last week by members who worked at five of the biggest casinos in Atlantic City.

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“We work hard in the casino,” said Vaishali Patel, an environmental services worker at Resorts. “I’ve worked [for] this company 10 years. [It’s] not only company, that’s our second home. So we have an expectation … we want [what’s] fair.”

Patel said she only makes $13 an hour after 10 years with the company, adding that the company can afford to pay her and her co-workers more.

“They spent more than $13 million in the swimming pool,” Patel pointed out. “We request [that the] company make a fair [deal] with us.”

Patel and others are willing to go on strike if a “fair” deal is not reached.

Michelle DeLucca, a server at Golden Nugget for 24 years, said she would rather not go on strike, but is willing to do so.

“If that’s where we have to go, that’s what we’re going to do,” she said. “I think most people … like me really don’t want to go on strike, but we have to try to obtain what everybody else has received.”

More than 9,000 workers across the board have received “significant” pay raises in the deal reached with managers at the Borgata, Caesar’s, Hard Rock, Harrah’s, and Tropicana. Workers at Bally’s and Ocean Casino Resort are also covered by the deal through “me-too agreements” the union has reached. The deal also fully funds family health care and pension plans, includes new language for job protection and brings improvements to housekeeping workloads.

Representatives from Golden Nugget did not respond to a request for comment. Mark Giannantonio, president and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel, said the strike authorization vote “has been the strategy of Local 54 Union Leadership” prior to negotiations.

“We are eagerly awaiting to meet with the union and negotiate in good faith terms for an amicable deal for our Team Members and Resorts,” he said.

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