ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Atlantic City rejected a bid by its main casino workers union to force a public vote this fall on one casino’s policy limiting many customer service jobs to between four and six years.
In a June 28 letter received by the union on Monday, City Clerk Rhonda Williams rejected petitions from Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, saying they improperly tied the hands of the City Council and did not have enough signatures.
The union says it has more than enough signatures and will go to court to force the referendum in November.
The $2.4 billion Revel casino, which opened in April, is the only one of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos to impose term limits on employees. Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis says the business needs to ensure that customer service employees don’t become indifferent to the needs of guests.
But Williams wrote: “I have concluded that the initiatives are invalid because they attempt to permanently tie the hands of the governing body into the future.”
She also said the petitions had to be rejected because they did not equal at least 15 percent of Atlantic City’s registered voters.
But the union says it is only required under state law to collect signatures equal to 15 percent of the number of Atlantic City voters who cast ballots in the last ballots for the state Assembly — a much lower threshold that the union says it easily surpassed.
A union spokesman said Local 54 plans to challenge the rejections in court soon.
“As expected, rather than let the citizens of Atlantic City vote on ordinances that would make life better for workers in AC, the City of Atlantic City chose to reject our initiative petitions with fallacious readings of the law,” union president Bob McDevitt said. “With Atlantic City teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, why the leadership of this city will again waste taxpayer money to defend a suit we will bring and expect to win is beyond my understanding.”
Revel declined to comment.
Before Revel opened, applicants were told they will have jobs for as little as four years at a time, after which they will have to re-apply. That means competing with younger, fresher faces — a requirement that has never been made before in the 34-year history of casino gambling in Atlantic City.
Jobs that are subject to term limits of up to six years include dealers, valets, cocktail servers, bartenders and front desk clerks.
The casino says it will recruit for supervisory positions from among those workers and will encourage advancement through the ranks. At the end of the job term, any employee who has not been promoted will have to re-apply for the same job and compete with all other comers.
McDevitt says that will have the effect of purging the workforce of all but the youngest, most attractive faces.
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