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See Why Joining a Union Was No Gamble for Casino Workers

New York Hotel Trades Council photo

After years of organizing and a prolonged contract fight, the 1,750 workers at the Resorts World Casino New York City finally may have hit their own jackpot: a living wage.

Under the new agreement with the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council (HTC), the casino and racetrack complex will increase the salaries of 1,400 of its workers to more than $60,000 per year by 2016, doubling the take-home pay of many of those workers. In addition to the pay raise, the contract provides free family health care, training programs for career advancement and retirement security for workers.

“We’ve worked to create a situation where the middle class is suddenly within reach of gaming workers, not a bunch of minimum wage jobs where people have to live on the dole to survive,” HTC President Peter Ward explains.

If we’re going to give you license to run a billion-plus-dollar-a-year operation, we expect the people to be taken care of as part of the deal.

The casino and racetrack complex has raked in more than $1.3 billion in record profits in the two years it has been open. The casino has been labeled wildly successful by city and state leaders, pouring $840 million into the state’s education fund and other programs. Yet many of the casino workers were earning only slightly more than $10 an hour. All that will change now. By 2016, when the full contract goes into effect, a full-time kitchen worker will earn $57,679 a year with family health care and paid time off.

A jubilant Adrian Soto, a security guard who was earning $11 per hour and now earns more than $22 per hour, says, “This is just life-changing, I’m practically in tears right now.” He says the raise will allow him to pay his bills on time for the first time in months.

Jeannine Nixon, a customer relations representative, learned that her salary would jump from $22,300 a year to $40,000. “I can finally feel relieved,” she says, explaining that she had recently been forced to postpone medical care because she could not afford it.

New York City Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez says the new contract will fundamentally change the lives of these workers.” He adds:

This is an absolute victory, and a testament to the labor movement’s ability to fight to ensure that all working families have the wages, protections and tools necessary to grow and thrive in New York City.

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