I haven’t said much about the Local 54 strike in Atlantic City here, mostly because I’ve been giving you fun stories about hard-up Swedes and gambling Neopets. Today, I read a great article in the Philly Inquirer:
It’s a good thing Borgata bosses inked a contract with casino workers last year.
If they hadn’t, those young, bronzed Borgata Babes would be strutting the strike lines, clicking their high heels and drawing attention to their D cups instead of employees’ demands.
Thankfully for the strikers, the first thing drivers into Atlantic City saw this week was the real face of the state’s casino industry:
Three 40-something single moms dodging traffic with cigarette in mouth, wondering how soon their cars will be repossessed and how much longer they’ll be able to afford their antidepressants.
The strike – the longest in the casino city’s history – will mark its two-week birthday tomorrow with 10,000 bartenders, cooks, waitresses and maids picketing on payday.
Among the trio of Caesars cocktail waitresses, there’s little to celebrate.
Maria Campbell has already missed one month’s $900 rent on the three-bedroom house in Somers Point she shares with her two sons.
Bonnie Adams had to skip a payment on the SUV she bought last year. She figures she is just days away from losing her Hyundai Santa Fe.
And Kirsten Olson can’t decide whether to laugh or cry at the casinos’ allegation that the strike is nothing more than a ploy to join forces with Las Vegas unions to plot an industry-crippling strike three years from now.
Striking, she notes while inhaling bus fumes, really isn’t much fun.
“We’re all on antidepressants,” Adams says.
And if the strike drags on much longer, they won’t have the money to pay for a refill.
Leave it to a trio of cocktail servers schooled in the art of the honest hustle to stake out a prime picketing spot sure to rattle superstitious gamblers.
Striking casino workers will take their protest back to the streets this weekend in what promises to be a massive rally, even larger than a Boardwalk march last month that drew thousands of people.
Local 54 of Unite Here, which represents 10,000 striking workers at seven casino hotels, plans to stage a march down Pacific Avenue on Saturday, threatening to snarl traffic on the city’s main thoroughfare. The Local 54 Web site reported Wednesday that the march will feature hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean.
“It’s definitely going to disrupt traffic,” police Lt. Michael Tullio said. “If they have 7,000 or 8,000 marchers going down Pacific Avenue … it’s going to disrupt traffic flow in the entire city.”
Local 54 President Bob McDevitt said the rally is expected to attract more protesters than the 7,000 union supporters who marched on the Boardwalk on Sept. 16, then the largest labor demonstration in the city’s history.
“A lot of people are coming in from out of town. They’re coming from all over the East Coast,” McDevitt said, adding that labor unions affiliated with Unite Here plan to send scores of supporters.
According to Local 54′s Web site, the march is scheduled to begin at noon at the Showboat Casino-Hotel at New Jersey Avenue and make its way south along Pacific Avenue, past other casinos that are the target of the 13-day-old strike.
The march will end about 90 minutes later in front of the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort on Boston Avenue, about two miles from the Showboat.
I’ve heard that the picketers in front of Bally’s have been particularly loud. That might not mean much to you, unless you were a paying guest at Bally’s (they apparently start making noise around 4:30 AM), but think for a second on the well-being of patients in Atlantic City Medical Center, which is right across Pacific Avenue.
Thanks to the strike, patients in ACMC have to be subjected to an endless barrage of chanting, horn-blowing, and other auditory assaults. That includes, of course, the trauma patients, some of whom are recovering from serious automobile accidents. Imagine how it must feel, after being involved in a serious car accident, to lie in your hospital bed and hear, for hours on end, blaring car horns. It’s probably not conducive to putting the trauma behind you.
I’m all for the right to free speech, but as a humanitarian effort, Local 54 might want to institute a “relatively” quiet zone in the immediate area of the hospital.
And that’s all I have to say about the strike…for now.