Trenton – Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz, Senator Nellie Pou, Senator Cunningham and Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez issued the following statement in support of Atlantic City’s hospitality workers in Local 54:
“Earlier this month, The Press of Atlantic City reported that several casinos were not in compliance with current state regulations that require hotel rooms be cleaned and sanitized daily. As a result, Local 54 union officials filed a complaint with the Department of Community Affairs, which is the state agency responsible for compliance, and cited that the current casino workforce has been systematically overworked, underpaid and understaffed. Consequently, last week, casino workers voted to authorize a strike at Borgata, Caesars, Harrah’s, Tropicana, and Hard Rock in Atlantic City, calling for a real wage increase and more staffing.
“Tourism is a great source of pride in this state and is an economic development engine for the economy. In the legislature, the financial stability of Atlantic City has always been a top priority. We have long recognized and continue to recognize the importance of Atlantic City and the casino industry to the general economic health and stability of our state. Through several pieces of legislation, we have invested time and funds to ensure that Atlantic City and the casino industry work to create good and sustainable jobs for their workforce. In recent years, we have even gone to great lengths to support the casino industry, including the passing of Senate Bill No. 4007 last December, which granted the casinos financial relief on PILOT payments that will save the industry $55 million this year.
“While the casino industry appears to be thriving under post-pandemic challenges, casino workers are falling behind. During the pandemic, the greater Atlantic City area ranked #3 in the nation in job loss. This equaled out to 1 out of 3 people were unemployed in the region at that time. This is due in part to the scale of reach the casino industry has in the region. While the industry made its way back online, and gaming revenues and gross operating profits have recovered, the number of jobs in the industry has not kept up the pace. This April, total employment in the Atlantic City casino industry was down by 19 percent compared to April 2019, according to the Division of Gaming Enforcement. This is a drop from 27,601 to 22,266 total jobs.
“The state has done absolutely everything it can to stabilize and mitigate the financial impact on the region and casino industry and it has worked. There are no simple answers when it comes to keeping a region financially stable — especially post-pandemic. It is our expectation like any other industry, for the casino industry to take care of its workers. The casinos must do everything in their power to ensure that they are providing a real living wage for their employees. We ask that they return to the bargaining table in good faith and give casino workers what they need. Together is the only way we will overcome the economic challenges we face post pandemic and New Jersey’s families deserve to be given a fair shot at a shared prosperity.”