Opinion: Atlantic City, NJ, Can’t Catch a Break as Another Strike Looms
Sometimes it seems like Atlantic City can’t get a break.
This beautiful resort on some of the most precious strips of beach and boardwalk in New Jersey has had its share of struggles over the years. It seems like every time it bounces back, something else comes up to give it another punch in the face.
The economic decline it witnessed during the mortgage-led Wall Street crisis in 2009 was difficult to bounce back from.
Next, the city faced months of hotel and casino vacancies as casinos faced competition from newly opened competitors in Pennsylvania and New York encroaching into their market. Then Sandy hit. And just as it looked like Atlantic City‘s problems would finally abate, the pandemic.
Don’t get me wrong— I’m an Atlantic City fan I will always support and defend it. But the union's last strike in 2016 against the Trump Taj Mahal incited a ripple effect of gloom down the boardwalk. That strike, over health care and pension benefits, forced the casino to close.
Then, when Hard Rock Hotel and Casino came in to save the day, Atlantic City rebounded in a big way. But now another strike looms just in time for the big Fourth of July weekend. If it happens, Friday, July 1 is D-Day.
According to The Press of Atlantic City, Unite Here Local 54 members have authorized a strike for the five casinos involved, Borgata, Caesars, Harrah’s, Tropicana, and Hard Rock. And if they occur, there will be major financial losses even if a strike lasts one day. For example, the Borgata is at risk of losing $1.6 million in a strike and its neighboring casinos are at just as much risk.
The article says that negotiations at Hard Rock were ongoing today, Tuesday, with talks planned with the owners of three or four others on Wednesday in the hope of reaching new labor agreements and averting a strike.
Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small announced that he stands with the Unite Here Local 54, and agrees that their wages must be renegotiated.
Placards are being printed, cardboard signs are being stapled to wooden sticks and, according to the article, workers have already have begun signing up for reduced-level strike pay from a fund the union maintains for walkouts.
I have no doubt that Atlantic City will survive the latest uncertainty on the boards. But the question is will this uncertainty ever end?