Tropicana, Atlantic City casino dealers reach tentative deal on first-ever union contract

By Geoff Mulvihill, AP
Thursday, August 19, 2010

Atlantic City casino, dealers approach union pact

Dealers at Atlantic City’s Tropicana Casino and Resort were voting Thursday on whether to accept a tentative labor deal.

If they do, it would be the first union contract ever for casino dealers in Atlantic City, coming more than three years after dealers at four casinos in town voted to accept representation from the United Auto Workers.

While it’s common for casino service workers to be unionized, it’s new for dealers to be organized.

A push to unionize dealers in Las Vegas also began in 2007. Those at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Las Vegas accepted representation, but have not reached a settlement.

No details of the deal were released immediately.

UAW spokesman Michelle Martin said the union would divulge details of the contract Thursday after voting ended. She said meetings with dealers began Wednesday.

The deal could clear the way for labor agreements at Trump Entertainment Resorts, Bally’s Atlantic City and Caesars Atlantic City. Dealers voted to authorize strikes a year ago, but there’s never been a walkout.

Simultaneously with the union drive, Atlantic City’s gambling industry has suffered mightily under a generally sour economy and increased competition in nearby New York and Pennsylvania.

New Jersey casino regulators stripped the Tropicana’s former owners of their state license in December 2007, citing poor performance including nearly 1,000 layoffs that left the gambling hall dirty and understaffed.

The casino continued to operate even after its owners entered bankruptcy court protection.

In January, billionaire Carl Icahn received regulatory approval to take control of nine Tropicana Entertainment LLC casinos in Nevada, Indiana, Louisiana and Mississippi as they emerged from a separate bankruptcy. Icahn’s purchase of Atlantic City’s Tropicana was finalized in March.

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