Revel Casino-Hotel employees, backed by Atlantic City’s largest casino union, went to Trenton on Wednesday to call on the state to protect their jobs if the casino is sold.
Local 54 of UNITE-HERE has been demanding intervention for the nearly 3,000 workers at the non-union casino through the State Investment Council. The union has argued that the council should require Chatham Asset Management, Revel’s largest equity holder, to ensure that any party purchasing the casino maintain the existing work force.
In November, the Investment Council, which oversees the state pension fund, approved a $300 million investment in Chatham, making the state the second-largest investor in the firm. Last week, a group also rallied on the Boardwalk and presented casino management with a petition asking for a fair process to unionize.
“Every day I go to work, I wonder if this is the day that there will be an announcement of a sale, and I’ll be out of a job,” said Revel bellman Rob Mayer. “We need to know that we won’t get tossed to the curb by new owners, and we need a fair process to join Local 54.”
Lawmakers have confirmed that Hard Rock International and Caesars Entertainment Corp. are among the parties interested in purchasing the casino.
On Wednesday, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney said if Hard Rock were to operate the property, it would be an “enormous improvement.” He also said the state should pressure Revel to make sure jobs are protected.
“It was my legislation that helped get Revel built, and then to watch how they managed it and ran it, there was no louder critic than me,” Sweeney said. “But I think we have to protect the jobs. ... I’m concerned about the workers.”
Revel declined to comment on the situation.
Ben Begleiter, a spokesman for Local 54, said the union is prepared to partner with Revel. To do so, the employees need to know they won’t be fired during a sale and a choice to join a union would be respected.
“We believe that engaging Chatham on this issue is responsible fiduciary behavior because massive layoffs and an escalating labor dispute would further depress the economy of South Jersey, impacting your members and your beneficiaries,” Begleiter told the council.
Chatham is part of a group of lenders that took ownership of Revel following the casino's Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year. The deal reduced Revel's debt from about $1.5 billion to $272 million, providing breathing room for the property as it developed new strategies.
Contact Jennifer Bogdan:
@ACPressJennifer on Twitter