Workers Strike at Seven Atlantic City Casinos

About 10,000 casino hotel workers from more than half the city's 12 casinos went on strike Friday, even though negotiators had reached a tentative agreement with three of the casinos.

Members of Local 54 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union chanted and carried picket signs outside seven casinos after going on strike at 6 a.m. The strike did not affect dealers and other workers in gambling operations, who were still on the job.

Union negotiators reached an agreement late Thursday with Trump Hotel & Casino Resorts (search), thereby averting a strike at Trump Taj Mahal (search), Trump Marina (search) and Trump Plaza (search).

But other union members — ranging from bell captains to bartenders and pastry chefs to porters — went on strike at Harrah's Atlantic City, Showboat Hotel-Casino, Bally's Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City, the Atlantic City Hilton, Resorts Atlantic City, and the Tropicana Casino and Resort.

Two casinos that have forged separate agreements with the union were unaffected.

At Caesars, bartender Kamal Sabbagh, 43, was among hundreds of striking workers marching outside the casino's entrances.

"We'd like to go back as soon as possible, but not without obtaining our goals," he said. "We mean business, 100 percent."

At issue was the practice of subcontracting by casinos, which lease space to restaurants and bars without requiring them to use union workers.

Police said there were no arrests and no violence was reported, but some garages complained that picketers were blocking entrances.

"We are monitoring all the sites where there's picketing," said police Capt. John Mooney. "We're prepared to keep the peace. That's our job."

Dozens of ironworkers handling renovations of the Ocean One pier across the boardwalk from Caesars said they would respect the casino workers' picket lines and not report to work Friday.

"We're supporting our brothers. We're union. They're union," said Paul DiGerolamo, 54.

The casino hotel union, which represents about 17,000 workers in the city, had remained on the job since the expiration of a five-year contract Sept. 15, promising to strike Oct. 1 if no new contract was reached.