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Atlantic City casino workers vote to strike after contract negotiations stall

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Workers at four casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey’s gambling hub, voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to authorize a strike if they are not offered what they consider to be a fair contract by the start of the busy July 4 holiday weekend.

A strike vote could give Unite Here Local 54 bargaining committees more firepower in negotiations over new contracts for the 6,000 cocktail servers, cooks, housekeepers and other hospitality workers. Employees are now working under expired contracts.

“They need to offer these workers a fair contract. We gave up a lot when times were bad, now that they are making money, they need to give back to us,” Local 54 President Bob McDevitt said in a statement after the vote.

McDevitt said 96 percent of those who voted on Thursday cast their ballots in support of the strike authorization.

Four of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos closed in 2014 and remain shuttered, in part because of gambling competition from neighboring states.

Unite Here said workers agreed to wage freezes during the recession, and those with 25 years on the job have had only 80 cents in total raises over the past 12 years.

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“I work full-time but I’m still struggling to make ends meet,” Rodney Mills, a 42 year-old buffet drink server at Tropicana who earns roughly $11 an hour despite working there for more than two decades, said in a statement.

Atlantic City casino revenues increased 2.7 percent to $802.6 million in the first quarter of 2016, according to state data.

Last summer, workers at the Trump Taj Mahal, founded by Donald Trump but now owned by billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s Icahn Enterprises LP, also agreed to allow a strike if needed. But they have yet to call a walkout, according to Local 54.

Thursday’s strike vote pertains to the Tropicana casino and two properties, Caesars Atlantic City and Bally’s Atlantic City, currently owned by bankrupt Caesars Entertainment Operating Company Inc.

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Also included in the vote is another Caesars property, Harrah’s Atlantic City, controlled by a separate unit not in bankruptcy..

Caesars’ spokesman Stephen Cohen could not be immediately reached for comment after the vote, but said earlier on Thursday the casinos were intent on hammering out a deal that benefits both workers and the city’s comeback efforts.

Representatives for Tropicana also could not be reached for comment on Thursday night.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the union’s appeal of a lower court ruling allowing the Taj Mahal to break its contract to secure a bankruptcy deal.

(Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York and Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Dan Grebler and Peter Cooney)

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Trump Twitter-snarls at ‘Impeachment Day’ protesters as the product of ‘Radical Left Democrats’

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President Donald Trump lashed out at Impeachment Day protesters on Twitter on Sunday morning, downplaying their efforts after seeing a report on Fox News.

Taking to Twitter the president wrote, "Yesterday was the Radical Left Democrats big Impeachment day. They worked so hard to make it something really big and special but had one problem - almost nobody showed up. “The Media admits low turnout for anti-Trump rallies ...saying enough. Democrat voters want to hear the politicians talking about issues. This is a huge distraction and will only help Donald Trump get elected. 'Greatest President since Ronald Reagan' said a counter-protester. LehighValleyLive."

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Trump’s first term: hits and misses

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"Promises made, promises kept," goes one of President Donald Trump's main 2020 reelection slogans. Is that true?

Here are some of the key policy hits and misses -- comparing his accomplishments to his promises -- from a tumultuous first term.

- HITS -

Economy:

The economy will be Trump's major selling point.

GDP grew 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019 and the last recession was a decade ago. Unemployment is at a 50-year low of 3.6 percent.

Trump's frequent claim that the economy is probably "the best" in US history is an exaggeration, though.

Economists see growing dangers, including exploding government debt and growing backlash from Trump's aggressive trade policies, especially with China.

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The racist roots of American policing

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Outrage over racial profiling and the killing of African Americans by police officers and vigilantes in recent years helped give rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.

But tensions between the police and black communities are nothing new.

There are many precedents to the Ferguson, Missouri protests that ushered in the Black Lives Matter movement. Those protests erupted in 2014 after a police officer shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown; the officer was subsequently not indicted.

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