Slot technicians threaten strike at Tropicana

Jan 28, 2009 11:08 PM
Staff & Wire Reports |

Slot technicians at The Tropicana Casino and Resort have authorized what would be the first strike in nearly three decades by workers who handle Atlantic City gambling equipment.

The 23 employees are represented by the United Auto Workers and voted Tuesday night, protesting the lack of a contract after more than a year of negotiations with the Tropicana, which is about to be sold in a bankruptcy auction.

The technicians maintain and repair slot machines, the main moneymakers for Atlantic City's 11 casinos.

The Tropicana is considering layoffs and steep increases in the cost of employee health care coverage. No date has been set for a walkout, and technicians showed up for work as usual on Wednesday, union negotiator Scott Montani said.

"The casino just isn't negotiating; they're dragging their feet, and a lot of the workers are angry and frustrated," Montani said.

Dealers and other casino workers represented by the union are considering taking a strike vote, as well, Montani said.

Tropicana President Mark Giannantonio said the casino "has and will continue to bargain in good faith with the UAW. It is unfortunate that the UAW would suggest a work stoppage to their members during a downturn in the economy."

The casino has been operating since December 2007 under a state conservator because its former owners were stripped of their casino license. Baltimore-based Cordish Company is the leading candidate to buy it at auction.

A strike would be the first involving casino technicians or dealers in Atlantic City since 1982. That walkout collapsed in three days, led to the demise of a fledgling union and hindered casino union organizing efforts in the city for years.

In 2007, the UAW announced its goal to unionize all 11 Atlantic City casinos.

It won representation elections at Caesars Atlantic City, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Bally's Atlantic City, and the Tropicana but has yet to agree on a contract with any of them. The union lost votes at Trump Marina Hotel Casino and the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort.

Bartenders, cocktail servers, housekeepers and other service employees have struck Atlantic City several times.

In 2004, a walkout by 10,000 service workers against seven casinos lasted a month. In 1999, service workers struck nine casinos for three days.