For immediate release
June 20, 2012
Atlantic City, NJ-UNITE HERE Local 54 has filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board in Philadelphia over Tropicana’s illegal suspension of 21 workers who engaged a peaceful first amendment protest which included a civil disobedience action.
In a letter to the NLRB accompanying the charges, Local 54’s attorney wrote, "Tropicana, however, chose to use this demonstration to restrain, coerce and intimidate its employees by suspending shop stewards and bargaining committee members. " The letter continues "It is quite obvious that Tropicana’s latest tactic of suspending certain of the employees who engaged in the demonstration is intended to chill employee support for the Union during this critical phase when Tropicana has already made unlawful unilateral changes."
"These workers engaged in a peaceful act of civil disobedience in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. We are asking the NLRB to seek an injunction to stop Tropicana’s illegal actions and get these workers back to work so that they can provide for their families. We’ve done civil disobedience before, and no company has had the audacity to fire its workers over it. This just shows how outrageous Tony Rodio’s leadership is," said Bob McDevitt, President of the 14,000 person union.
According to the letter, the workers who were arrested "were charged with two petty disorderly persons offenses under New Jersey law. Petty disorderly persons offenses do not constitute crimes under New Jersey law."
Francine Stevenson, a housekeeper and 17-year employee of Tropicana, said, "I’m supporting my two granddaughters, one of whom is starting college next year. I want to get back to work. If Tropicana thinks that we are going to be intimidated by these suspensions, they don’t know their workers. We’re not intimidated, we’re mad."
UNITE HERE Local 54 represents bartenders, cocktail waitress, housekeepers, cooks and other service workers in Atlantic City’s casinos.
In 2004, after contract negotiations broke done, Local 54 members struck the Tropicana and 6 other casinos for 34 days.
In 2007, Local 54 opposed the licensing of Columbia Sussex at the Tropicana. The Casino Control Commission ultimately denied Columbia Sussex a license.