News :: Labor

Double Victory For Bally Casino Workers

Dealers, Security Officers at Bally's Casinos
In Atlantic City Vote for Union Representation by SPFPA and UAW.

No. 107
Tuesday, June 5, 2007

ISSN 1522-5968

Labor News

Dealers at Bally's Atlantic City, the largest casino in Atlantic City, N.J., voted June 2-3 for representation by the United Auto Workers.

On June 3, security officers at the same casino voted for representation by the International Union of Security, Police, and Fire Professionals of America, SPFPA, marking the first casino security officers organized in Atlantic City.

In an election conducted June 2-3 by the National Labor Relations Board, dealers, keno, and simulcast workers at Bally's voted 628-255 for representation by the UAW, with 141 challenged ballots that were not determinative, according to John Breese, assistant to the regional director for NLRB Region 4 in Philadelphia. Approximately 1,129 employees were eligible to vote in that election, he said.

In a separate election conducted June 3, security officers employed by the casino voted 151-71 for representation by the SPFPA. That unit included some 255 eligible workers, Breese said.

Third Win Since March

As part of a citywide UAW organizing drive among dealers in Atlantic City, the Bally's election was the third win for the union since mid-March. In a March 17 election, dealers at Caesars voted 572-128 for UAW representation (53 DLR A-1, 03/20/07) and March 31 dealers at Trump Plaza voted 324-149 for the union (63 DLR A-8, 4/3/07) . Trump Plaza, however, has filed objections to that election(70 DLR A-3, 4/12/07) .

The union in recent weeks has been rejected by dealers at two other Atlantic City casinos. Dealers at Trump Marina voted 183-175 against representation (93 DLR A-1, 5/15/07) , while those at Hilton voted 316-268 against UAW(103 DLR A-8, 5/30/07) . UAW has filed objections to those elections.

"This strong majority vote is another great victory for casino dealers in Atlantic City," Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, said in a June 3 statement. "[W]e look forward to bargaining a contract that will address pay, benefits, job security, and other issues of concern for casino dealers," he added.

According to UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, Bally's tried to convince the dealers to vote "no." She said, however, that the results "make clear that casino dealers had their own collective goal: to join the union movement and negotiate an enforceable and binding contract."

"We are disappointed that our Bally's employees decided to vote in favor of a Detroit-based labor union," Carlos Tolosa, the president of Harrah's Eastern Division, said in a statement provided to BNA. Officials of Harrah's Entertainment, which owns Bally's, and officials at Bally's, declined to comment further on the elections.

UAW is "looking forward to negotiating a fair and equitable contract with the casino," Kevin Donovan, the assistant director for UAW Region 9, told BNA June 4.

The union has not filed any other election petitions at this time, Donovan said, but added that UAW is canvassing workers at the other casinos to see if there is interest in organizing. He added that the organizing to date has resulted primarily from workers "coming to us."

UAW is in discussions with Caesars about beginning negotiations on a first contract and the parties are "close to getting dates" scheduled, Donovan said.

SPFPA Plans Citywide Campaign

Meanwhile, SPFPA Organizing Director Steve Maritas told BNA June 4 that in the past there have been several attempts by smaller unions to organize security officers in Atlantic City, but no union has been able to organize these workers until now.

Referring to the twin union victories, Maritas added, "You might beat them once, but you never beat them twice. Finally, someone beat the house."

Maritas said that his union now intends to organize the security officers in the remaining Atlantic City casinos, estimating that the 11 casinos together employ some 2,500 security officers.

Unlike the UAW campaign in which that union is organizing one facility at a time, the SPFPA is in the process of signing up workers at every casino, Maritas said, adding that the union has collected enough authorization cards to file for elections at two more properties. He said, however, that the plan is to educate the security officers on the need for a union as well as how to stand up to "union busting" at the properties, get more signed authorization cards, and file for elections at several properties at one time.

Maritas said the union usually does not focus on going after people to organize, but rather the workers approach the union. In Atlantic City, however, he said the union is educating the workers and laying a foundation for a vote because the casinos are "very hard to organize."

The major issue in the organizing drive throughout the city is wages, Maritas said. In Atlantic City, security officers earn $9 an hour to $10 an hour and also pay $76 per week for family health benefits. In Detroit, where the union represents the security guards at three casinos--the MGM Grand, Greektown, and Motor City--those workers are earning more than $16 an hour and are only paying $70 per month for health insurance, he said.



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Source: "Glances at History" (suppressed)

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