Service workers at 10 of Atlantic City’s 11 casinos have been working without a contract since Sept. 15. The casino bosses in the struggling gaming town are pushing for steep wage cuts they claim are necessary to balance their books, even though the average casino worker’s wages have only gone up 55 cents/hour over the past seven years. A proposal by the two Trump casinos in AC would cut workers’ annual compensation by $2k in year one, $3k in year two and $6k in year three. According to Local 54 president Bob McDevitt, “that’s $11k that management would be rifling through the pockets of their employees and taking out.” Despite their differences in opinion, Trump Entertainment Resorts CEO Bob Griffin claims the tone of the ongoing talks has been professional.
Griffin better hope all parties involved in this dispute continue to make nice. Atlantic City already has the dubious distinction of having the highest violent crime rate of any major US casino city. In 2010, AC experienced 19.7 incidents of violent crime per 1,000 residents, a rate that even shell-shocked Detroit (18.9) couldn’t match. By comparison, Las Vegas has 36 times AC’s population yet boasts a violent crime rate half that of AC. AC’s defenders claim the results are skewed due to AC’s low base population, but others point to the fact that 24% of casino security staff have been let go in recent years. Local 54’s McDevitt says his members “notice the lack of security. It just creates an unsafe situation … I think the casinos should be obligated to create a safer environment inside their own properties.”
Rest easy, McDevitt. Resorts Casino Hotel CEO Dennis Gomes has apparently seen your bat-signal and is ready to deliver justice on demand. On Sept. 2, Gomes was dining at one of his joint’s restaurants when a man wandered in, snatched a case full of compact disks belonging to another diner and made a run for it. Fortunately, Gomes’ entrée had yet to arrive, so he tossed his breadsticks aside and leaped into action. Gomes chased the perp through the casino and down an ‘up’ escalator, finally tackling his prey with the help of an actual Resorts security guard (every superhero needs a sidekick). Together, the crime fighters corralled their suspect until AC police arrived. By then, Gomes was “sweating like a pig,” but as he told the Press of Atlantic City, “people were clapping and patting me on the back, doing drinks to me. It was embarrassing.” Not as potentially embarrassing as the fact that Gomes is now in the running for Resorts’ ‘employee of the month’ award.