ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) – Even though labor contracts have expired at nine Atlantic City casinos, those hotels and gambling halls remain open as the city’s largest union tries to reach accords with them.

Local  54, which represents about 14,000 dealers and hospitality workers, opted to stay on the job at those nine casinos and allow the pacts to expire, giving the union more leverage at the bargaining table.

Union president Bob McDevitt says this strategy gives leaves the door open for a possible strike.

“Had we extended the contract, we wouldn’t be able to take any economic action against the employers if they refused to begin to bargain in a realistic way,” McDevitt told KYW Newsradio this morning.

Meanwhile, he’s juggling five sets of talks at once. In the past, the casinos had bargained as a group, but not this time.

One other complication for the union is that a tenth casino, Resorts, is emerging from bankruptcy, which resulted in voiding of the union contract there. And of course the economic climate and regional competition have delivered a double whammy to casino gambling “down the shore.”

Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio 1060

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