Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Atlantic City Takes On UAW

atlanticcityThe Associated Press has an informative article about casinos in Atlantic City, NJ pushing back against the unions’ misleading ad campaign.

For those not familiar with the union situation in Atlantic City, the United Auto Workers (yes, that UAW, a.k.a. the Union of Card Dealers) has been attempting to organize casino employees. The union has battered casinos with “print, billboard and radio ads” over contract negotiations.

The casinos have decided to respond with an appropriate message about the UAW:

Four casinos owned by Harrah’s Entertainment — Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City, Bally’s Atlantic City and the Showboat Casino Hotel — are taking out full-page newspaper advertisements listing setbacks the UAW has had in the auto industry, including the bankruptcies of Chrysler and GM, government takeovers and thousands of lost jobs. …

The casinos’ ad says “the UAW track record is nothing but bad news: Bankrupt American auto industry … Millions of dollars in taxpayer bailout of pensions … Lost wages, thousands of lost jobs, lost opportunities … Government takeovers.” It ends with the slogan, “Everyone loses if Atlantic City can’t compete.”

The casinos intend to settle their contract negotiation with the unions but insist that any deal reached must make economic sense. Why?

Atlantic City casinos are operating in “the worst operating environment in the 31-year history of legalized gambling.” Furthermore, the casinos are in their third straight year of revenue declines, including a 16 percent drop this year alone.

This is also a good opportunity to point out that it’s important to have both sides negotiate in good faith and allow the workers to actually vote on a contract. Harrah’s regional president made a prescient point:

“First-time contracts tend to take a long time since everything that happens in the eight hours an employee is on-site has to be put down in writing,” Nita said, referring to the terms of employment and working conditions that are part of a labor agreement.

It’s important to keep this in mind as labor continues to push for EFCA, specifically binding arbitration. Under EFCA, a federal bureaucrat will get to decide the contract without allowing workers to have an opportunity to vote on their own contract.

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