Union reaches deal with 3 of 5 Atlantic City casinos

Atlantic City's main casino workers union reached agreement Thursday on a new contract with three of the five casinos it had been targeting for a strike this weekend.

Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union has a new deal with three casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment: Bally's, Caesars and Harrah's. The deal, whose terms were not immediately revealed, was confirmed by both sides.

Talks remain underway with Tropicana and the Trump Taj Mahal, which are owned by billionaire investor Carl Icahn. A strike against those two could happen Friday if a new deal is not reached.

"We bargained through the night with Caesars, and our negotiating committee has recommended that the membership ratify the tentative agreement," said union president Bob McDevitt. "We are glad that Caesars Entertainment recognized the importance of fair wages and benefits to the workers in Atlantic City. I hope that Tropicana and Taj Mahal get the message."

Kevin Ortzman, president of Caesars and Bally's, said it was important for Caesars Entertainment to reach a deal.

"We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Local 54 that keeps our employees at work and allows them to continue to deliver the outstanding service and experience that our guests have come to expect," he told The Associated Press. "Caesars Entertainment is proud of the investments it has made to contribute to Atlantic City's revitalization and will continue to help drive the city's revival."

The Borgata, Golden Nugget and Resorts are not being targeted by the union and would not be affected by a strike.

About 6,500 of the union's nearly 10,000 workers are at the five hotels. They cook and serve food and drinks to casino guests, carry luggage and clean hotel rooms, and provide the very infrastructure of Atlantic City's hospitality industry.

The agreement with the Caesars Entertainment casinos covers about 4,000 union members.

The union is out to recoup concessions it gave the casinos in past negotiations when the gambling halls were in worse financial shape; four of the 12 casinos shut down in 2014. The surviving ones, with less competition, are beginning to see their finances stabilize, and McDevitt says it's time to make the workers whole again.

The casinos have said they are committed to reaching a contract that is fair for both sides.

The city remains prepared for a potential strike over the July Fourth holiday; extra police have been assigned to duty, and the union has trained strike captains to supervise picketers and has planned the precise routes they would walk during a strike.

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