ATLANTIC CITY — Nearly 2,500 workers are in the process of unionizing following last summer’s dual casino openings in the seaside resort.
UNITE HERE Local 54, the casino workers’ union, said discussions with new casino hotel properties, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino, are progressing at different speeds.
Both casinos reopened shuttered Boardwalk properties — Hard Rock is at the site of the former Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort while Ocean re-branded the former Revel Casino Hotel — which left thousands of people unemployed when they closed.
Local 54 has already been recognized as the bargaining agent for Hard Rock’s nearly 1,500 union employees, which includes bartenders, servers and other hospitality workers. The union and the casino company began contract negotiations in September.
“It was always our objective to get Hard Rock’s contract done first,” said Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54. “We’re further down the road with them, and that was by design.”
The nearly 1,200 employees at Ocean that the union expects to represent are still in the card check stage, which is where employees sign authorization forms signaling their intent to be part of a collective bargaining unit. The union and the casino hotel have a card check neutrality agreement in place, which signifies the company’s support of its workers to unionize.
“We’re talking to workers” and the process is advancing, McDevitt said Monday.
Hard Rock and Ocean Resort both opened June 27.
Typically, after workers sign cards signaling their intent to unionize, a third-party must verify the authenticity of the signatures before a union is legally allowed to represent the workers. That process can often take anywhere from two to three years.
McDevitt said the process at both properties, although in different phases, is moving along quickly.
“Things are happening at a pretty fast clip, especially at Hard Rock,” McDevitt said, which he attributed to their “leadership” and willingness.
“We have commenced the bargaining process, and, to date, all has proceeded in a productive manner,” said Bob Ellis, vice president of human resources at Hard Rock.
A spokesperson for Ocean Resort declined to comment.
Local 54 currently represents close to 8,500 casino workers in Atlantic City. In 2017, when only seven casino properties were open in Atlantic City, Local 54 reported membership of 10,266 to the U.S. Department of Labor.