New Jersey Casino Workers’ Union Receives Grant for Employee Training

The casino workers’ union will receive funds that will be used for hospitality training, thanks to a grand provided by the state. The first-ever Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education (PACE) program provided $280,000 to UNITE HERE! Local 54. The labor union represents close to 10,000 people who are employed within the casino industry of the state.

New Program

The PACE program was started earlier this year by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, set to provide funding for eligible businesses and organizations in an effort to prepare people to enter the workforce of the gambling industry.

Individuals participating will be able to successfully complete registered apprenticeship programs and expand their career opportunities. The program first started in January and already has awarded over $1.8 million to nine separate organizations.

The Local 54 will be using the funds to train 96 people for careers in the hotels and restaurants in the state. Those taking part will learn the training needed to be employed in hospitality positions including custodians, chefs and housekeepers.

The new program is being called a natural complement to the existing apprenticeship programs in the state, set to eliminate economic barriers that are associated with the inability to invest in proper skill training and work readiness by individuals seeking employment.

Casino Connection

The Local 54 is currently representing close to 10,000 employees in the casino industry of New Jersey. In 2018, the labor union began working with the state’s Labor Department as well as the state courts, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and other entities to create and manage the HireAC! Work program. This program provides training opportunity for individuals who are seeking a career in the hospitality field and have a low-level criminal record.

Already, 38 individuals have successfully completed the program since it began. The individuals have become gainfully employed within the casino industry of Atlantic City.

Local 54 just recently secured a deal with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, a relatively new venue in the region. Having been opened for just over a year the Hard Rock has reached a deal with the Local 54 with the union now representing close to 1800 individuals who are employed by the casino. Of the eligible workers of the property, just over 99% voted in approval of unionization.

In the past, the Hard Rock Casino operated at the Trump Taj Mahal and shut down due to labor disputes involving the former owner Carl Icahn. When Icahn took on the property, he refused to negotiate with employees to create new contracts.

After a prolonged strike among workers, Icahan decided to shutdown the venue. It was after this shutdown that the casino was acquired by the Hard Rock brand.

When the Hard Rock Casino opened in Atlantic City, so did the Ocean Casino Resort. The Ocean Casino has been in discussions with the Local 54 but with a new owner taking over recently, the process has been delayed somewhat.

Earlier in 2019, the president of the union, Bob McDevitt, called on gambling regulators of New Jersey to introduce legislation to prevent the casino industry from being taken over by investors of Wall Street who are too greedy and will have a negative impact on the casinos in Atlantic City as the investors are hoping for a quick profit and not a long term solution.