Union negotiators and casino management tried Thursday to reach new contracts that would avoid a costly and disruptive strike during one of Atlantic City's busiest weekends.
Local 54 of the Unite Here union has set a 12:01 a.m. Friday deadline to reach a new agreement with the Borgata, Caesars, Harrah's and Tropicana. If not, it has authorized a strike against those properties.
And a fifth casino, the Hard Rock, faces a similar deadline early Sunday.
Even if the union does go on strike, the casinos and their hotels will remain open for business; staffing levels and the quality of service could vary greatly depending on many variables.
The union was due to resume negotiations with MGM Resorts International, which owns the Borgata, Thursday morning.
It negotiated with Caesars Entertainment, which owns three casinos — Caesars, Harrah's and the Tropicana — for hours on Wednesday without reaching a new deal, and was to resume bargaining with that company Thursday as well.
The union has said it is seeking "significant" salary increases in new contracts to help workers keep pace with rapidly rising prices for gasoline, food, rent and other expenses.
Individual workers also say they helped keep the casinos open and running for most of the coronavirus pandemic, now in its third year, and deserve to be compensated for it.
Two casinos, Bally's and Ocean, have reached "me-too" agreements with the union, in which they commit to adopting the terms of contracts eventually reached with larger properties in the city, and will not face a walkout.
Likewise, union president Bob McDevitt said that two smaller casinos, Resorts and the Golden Nugget, are not at risk of a labor stoppage for the time being, as the union has yet to negotiate with them.