ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- A rally by community leaders to support collective bargaining rights for dealers and other casino workers turned into an impromptu victory celebration Wednesday when the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) confirmed a June 2007 election victory at Bally's, and certified the UAW as the union chosen by full- and part-time dealers, keno and simulcast workers.
"This is great news!" said Chun Zhu, a dealer at Bally's. "We won our election by more than 2-to-1 nearly a year ago. We knew all along it was a fair vote, with a huge majority in favor of forming our own union."
In the April 11 ruling released Wednesday, the NRLB in Washington upheld the Oct. 18, 2007, decision of Administrative Law Judge David Goldman, who dismissed all of Bally's objections to the election and found the vote to be valid and binding.
"The NLRB did the right thing by recognizing our majority," said Edda Osis, a simulcast writer at Bally's. "It's long past time for Bally's to do the right thing. They've lost their attempt to delay our election, and it's time to come together so everyone can win at the bargaining table."
"This is another major win for casino workers," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. "Dealers and all the other casino workers in Atlantic City who have chosen UAW representation have the full support of our entire union as they work to win their first contract agreements."
The NLRB announcement was well-received during a bipartisan press conference at City Hall, where Democratic and Republican elected officials, interfaith leaders and community activists had gathered to support casino workers across Atlantic City who have won UAW union representation elections and are working to bargain their first contracts.
Atlantic City Mayor Scott Evans; State Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Northfield; Assemblyman John F. Amodeo, R-Northfield; Rev. Reginald Floyd, pastor of Christ Worship Center Worldwide; Charles Wowkanech, president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, and Roy Foster, president of the Atlantic and Cape May Counties Central Labor Council, demonstrated their support for workers by signing a petition in favor of fair collective bargaining.
Since March 2007, a majority of casino dealers, dual-rate dealers and other workers at Caesars, Tropicana, Bally's and Trump Plaza in Atlantic City have voted in favor of UAW representation. Bargaining is under way at Caesars and Tropicana; the union at Bally's has just been certified and Trump Plaza is still trying to delay certification before the NLRB.
"Atlantic City is a union town," said Mayor Evans. "Most workers in our gaming industry are members of labor unions. This has been good for Atlantic City. We are a better place to live when our citizens work under contracts -- with good wages and good benefits."
"Everybody is on the same page," said Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey. "Community leaders, the Labor Relations Board and, most important, casino workers who want a chance to improve their workplaces. It's time for casino operators to get the message, get to the bargaining table, and work with us to negotiate good agreements that can help our members and help this industry."
"This victory is important for all casino workers in Atlantic City," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Organizing Department. "We're on strong legal ground, and our community support is solid. When a majority of workers speaks loud and clear in favor of forming their own union, there's only one acceptable result: fair bargaining for a fair contract."
The UAW, one of the nation's largest and most diverse labor unions, represents more than 8,500 gaming employees in Detroit, Atlantic City, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Indiana.