New Jersey’s Policemen’s Benevolent Association members are being asked to boycott the Tropicana Casino and Resort next month during their spring convention at Bally’s Atlantic City.
State PBA President Tony Wieners said he is asking members not to patronize Tropicana while they are in Atlantic City as a show of solidarity with the resort’s casino union, Local 54 of UNITE HERE, which is at an impasse with the casino over a new contract.
“This is in support of the Local 54 and our union brothers and sisters and we feel, as a labor union, we should be supportive,” Wieners said Monday.
The state PBA will return to Atlantic City March 4-9 and hold its spring convention at Bally’s — an event that attracts about 2,500 police officers and brings an estimated $1 million in revenue to the city, PBA officials have said.
Local 54 President Bob McDevitt, however, called on unions to boycott Tropicana over its contract demands.
The obstacle over an agreement in contract negotiations earlier this month involves the employee pension plan at the casino. Local 54 would like to continue with the current pension system, but casino management is looking to give employees a lump-sum payment out of the plan or deposit the money into a 401(k) plan.
“The Tropicana wants to step outside of the long tradition of providing a pension to workers, and they’re going to pay the price,” McDevitt said Monday.
Tropicana President Tony Rodio said Local 54’s move is typical union behavior — getting other unions, such as the state PBA, to relocate business — and in the end employees are hurt.
“To date we have not taken any steps that would cause harm to employees. They (Local 54) on the other hand are taking steps that would hurt their members,” Rodio said.
McDevitt said there are plenty of other places in Atlantic City where PBA members can spend their money next month, but the Tropicana should not benefit from the revenue generated by the convention.
“They can’t say on one hand ‘we want to destroy people’s pensions,’ and on the other hand say ‘the PBA is a great union, spend your money here,’” he said.
Last August, the state PBA said it would return to the city after a one-year absence prompted by the city’s decision to lay off 60 police officers. The 2011 state PBA spring convention was held at the Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. That was the first time in 25 years that the state’s police union didn’t all hold all three of its annual events — a collective-bargaining seminar, the valor awards and the spring convention — in the resort. A fall convention traditionally has been held outside the state.
Wieners said Monday that when the PBA made the decision to return to Atlantic City for its events, Local 54 requested the PBA support them in future disputes.
“We agreed that if there was any hotel or casino not cooperating with the local union, that we would not enter into any agreement with them or support that casino,” Wieners said.
Rodio said he worries about every customer at the Tropicana. If one is lost, it upsets him.
“We’re not going to sacrifice long-term financial stability for short-term peace with the Local 54,” Rodio said.
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