Ocean Resort Casino employees push toward unionization

With new ownership comes changes, and Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City is currently undergoing its share, including what appears to be the imminent unionization of its hotel and restaurant employees.

According to the Press of Atlantic City…

After Thursday’s approval by the New Jersey State Board of Mediation of the venue’s 74% of eligible employees who by signing cards or authorization forms indicated their intent to establish a union at the Boardwalk property, they are one step closer in doing just that.

Surpassed requirement:

With a full 24% over the 50% that federal law requires in order for worker’s intent to unionize to be formally recognized by an employer, UNITE HERE Local 54 president, Bob McDevitt, reportedly said on Friday that the “overwhelming” percentage of eligible employee signatures received by the mediation board was “really satisfying.”

“(Ocean Resort) acted in good faith and we’re looking forward to sitting down at the table with them,” added McDevitt.

Mass representation:

An affiliate of UNITE HERE, an international labor union representing 270,000 working people across North America, Local 54 represents hospitality workers in the Atlantic City area, and once negotiations begin, would represent upwards of 1,300 employees at the former Revel Casino Hotel.

The largest private sector union in South New Jersey, Local 54 represents nearly 8,500 employees, including cocktail servers, cooks, bartenders, housekeepers, bellhops, and other service workers in the resort city’s casino hotels.

Focus on Hard Rock:

Having begun contract negotiations in September, the union has already been recognized as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City’s bargaining agent for its almost 1,500 union employees. And McDevitt reportedly said that the union’s focus will be on wrapping up negotiations with the Hard Rock International-owned hotel and casino before its full attention is shifted to Ocean Resort.

Both casinos had unofficial openings on June 27, 2018, with the Hard Rock reopening at the site of the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, and Ocean Resort, which Colorado-based developer Bruce Deifik’s group, AC Ocean Walk, LLC, acquired from Florida developer Glenn Straub for $229 million in early January 2018.

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Downward spiral:

Just months after opening, in October last year, Ocean Resort requested and was granted temporary relief of a $31 million requirement, which was later extended by a month. According to a report at the time, the Atlantic City property had not been in compliance with the state Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) requirements since November 2018, which ultimately lead to a February 6, 2019, approval of a divestiture trust agreement allowing operations at Ocean Resort to continue uninterrupted during an ownership transition.

The unanimous decision by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission approving the complex financial deal enabled New York-based hedge fund Luxor Capital 7BALL CX Group to assume majority control of the resort casino from Deifik.

Executives depart:

On that heels of that decision, two top executives, including Frank Leone, the property’s former chief executive officer, and Alan Greenstein, now ex-chief financial officer, at Ocean Resort were let go on February 18, 2019.

On January 29 this year, the DGE submitted a report to the state’s Casino Control Commission that detailed just how much Ocean Resort had been losing. Operating losses of $3.2 million were reported by the casino in September, followed by a further $4.1 million loss in October and in November, the operating losses were reported at $5.5 million. Lastly, from January 1 through the 24, Ocean Resort reported $4.1 million in operating losses, according to a February 2, 2018 news report.