Harrah’s braces for dealers strike

Jul 22, 2009 7:16 PM
Staff & Wire Reports |

Harrah’s Entertainment is bracing for a possible dealers strike in two of its Atlantic City casinos, which are lining up replacement workers in the event of a walkout.

Harrah’s said it started implementing a contingency plan that includes hiring replacement workers for any dealers who go out on strike.

Over the weekend, the United Auto Workers authorized a strike against Bally’s Atlantic City and Caesars Atlantic City, but did not set a strike date. Previously, the union authorized a strike against the Tropicana Casino and Resort.

"We take their threats seriously," said J. Carlos Tolosa, the company’s eastern regional president. "There are 14,000 employees in Atlantic City who rely on Harrah’s for their livelihood, and we are not going to let the misguided tactics of the UAW interfere with our guests or the employees who are working hard to keep Atlantic City competitive this summer."

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Company spokeswoman Alyce Parker said any actual recruitment and hiring would be done "when and if there is a strike."

A Tropicana executive did not immediately return a call seeing information on preparations for a possible strike.

The UAW is seeking the first-ever union contracts with 3,000 Atlantic City dealers, even though hotel and other service workers have been unionized for decades. In addition to Bally’s, Caesars and the Tropicana, they also won a union representation election at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, but have not yet voted on a strike there.

The actions have the nation’s second-largest gambling resort wondering if the union is truly prepared to launch a strike at a time when Atlantic City is struggling as never before from the recession and fierce competition.

Atlantic City is in the third year of a revenue decline that started when the first slots parlor opened in the Philadelphia suburbs in November 2006. Since then, the recession has aggravated the problem, leaving gamblers with less disposable income to risk at the slot machines and table games.

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