Tropicana Casino Resort in Atlantic City has suspended 21 employees after they were arrested at a union protest on Friday.
The local chapter of the union called UNITE-HERE has filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board. The Tropicana employees were charged with disorderly persons offenses for blocking a roadway outside the casino.
Banquet server Laura Terpin, who has been with the casino for 24 years, was one of those arrested.
“They put the plastic handcuffs on us. Everything was very peaceful. It only took about 20 minutes,” she said. “We got in the wagons, we were taken to the convention center and we got a ticket.”
Contract talks between the union and the casino stalled earlier this year.
Tropicana president Tony Rodio says the union’s pension demands are unreasonable and that workers went too far on Friday.
“They stopped customers from coming to our business on a busy Friday in the summer and they don’t have the right to do that,” says Rodio.
Local union president Bob McDevitt called the suspensions an act of intimidation.
“If you are a local business owner,” responds Rodio, “and one of your disgruntled employees lay down in the street and wouldn’t let customers come into your business for an hour before the police would clear it up, how quick would you be to take that employee back?”
The union says members have never been suspended or fired after past protests.