ATLANTIC CITY — A slate known as “Members Stand United” wants to unseat Local 54 of UNITE-HERE’s current administration in next month’s election by focusing on the need for more job security, membership growth and improved contracts.
Theresa Volpe, a cocktail server at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, is running on the ticket as president, and said Monday that she brings a fresh perspective to the race as a newcomer.
So far, her competitors for the top spot are Bob McDevitt, who has been head of Local 54 since 1996, and Al Tabei, a bartender at Bally’s Atlantic City who also ran in 2007. Union members must declare their intent to run June 7, with an election June 25.
Volpe has been a union member for 31 years, with more than two decades as a shop steward and also serving on the contract committee.
“We’re trying to stay away from finger-pointing against Bob or Al,” said Volpe, 52, of Northfield. “We’re trying to make a clean, honest campaign in a new direction.”
She is concerned about job losses within the industry — resort casinos cut more than 2,200 positions through 2009 — and said the union could have done more to stave off those eliminations.
Meanwhile, Volpe wants to grow union membership and organize workers at other properties, such as The Pier Shops at Caesars and The Quarter at Tropicana Casino and Resort. Tabei also has questioned the lack of organizing at those properties under McDevitt’s leadership.
Membership of Local 54, the city’s largest casino union, has fluctuated over the years, and stands at about 15,500.
McDevitt has said the union has been successful in courting new members, including casino service workers at Harrah’s Chester in Pennsylvania, and has been able to uphold its contract standards with existing employers.
Volpe previously supported McDevitt when he ran for president. But she wants to see the completion of Revel Entertainment Group’s half-built casino project in Atlantic City.
McDevitt, on the other hand, has been vocal against Revel’s plan to open the casino using state tax reimbursements. Revel officials said last week that its plan is on hold until it can secure an investor to replace Morgan Stanley, which is selling its stake in the project.
“We want to see it up and running and get any workers there a fair contract,” Volpe said of Revel.
If elected, she added, she would immediately begin work to negotiate the next contract for Local 54 members instead of waiting until next year, when the current two-year contract with 10 of the 11 casinos expires.
Volpe and her running mates also have pledged to take pay cuts in their salaries, with that money going toward the members.
Her running mates include: Tammy Brennan, a bartender at Bally’s Atlantic City from Galloway Township, running as vice president; Bill Philips, a waiter at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa from Egg Harbor Township, running as secretary treasurer; and Jenelle Fleming, a food server at Bally’s and banquet server at Borgata from Mays Landing, running as recording secretary.
Tabei also announced his running mates for vice president, secretary treasurer and recording secretary. They are, respectively: Maria Betancourt, a housekeeper at Tropicana from Pleasantville; Jamie Jarrin, a cocktail server at Borgata from Mays Landing; and Keff Geda, a food server at Harrah’s Resort from Galloway Township.
Contact Erik Ortiz: