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Atlantic City Casinos Layoff Over 300 Workers

Three Atlantic City casinos announced layoffs Thursday totaling 315 employees, although many were seasonal help who normally only work during the summer.The two casinos owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts announced 200 layoffs Thursday, about 80 of which were seasonal employees. And Revel Casino Hotel said it was laying off 115 seasonal workers, or about 4 percent of its total workforce.

The job cuts come as the East Coast gambling resort continues to struggle against competition in neighboring states, falling casino revenue and declining market share.

Robert Griffin, CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts, told The Associated Press the cuts are necessary to help the company compete against casinos that do not have union contracts, including Revel. The Tropicana Casino Resort has stopped contributions to a pension fund, making direct payment to workers instead.

“I just can’t compete with non-union casinos in Atlantic City,” Griffin said. “That is a major advantage they have, millions of dollars they don’t have to spend.”

Of about 115 full-time employees being laid off, about 65 worked at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, and 50 at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino on the Boardwalk.

Many of the seasonal employees worked at a Trump beach bar over the summer, and about 20 employees at the Trump Plaza buffet will be terminated as of Oct. 28, Griffin said.

A deal to sell the struggling Trump Plaza to a California company fell through earlier this year.

Revel’s layoffs are the second major job reduction this year at Atlantic City’s newest casino. In April, Revel cut 83 jobs.

The latest layoffs came on the same day that Atlantic City’s main casino workers’ union complained to state labor and political officials about Revel’s use of part-time employees at levels it said are twice the city’s average.

In a letter sent Thursday to state Labor Commissioner Harold Wirths, Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union said nearly 29 percent of the 3,388 workers Revel employed as of the start of August were part-timers.

The union has been battling the largely non-union Revel over its labor policies since before it opened in 2012.

A Local 54 spokesman said the union wants to make state officials aware of Revel’s labor policies, particularly in light of state aid that helped the struggling casino to open, including a $2.6 million grant from the Labor department.

Revel officials declined comment on their staffing levels.

“Revel owes a debt to New Jersey,” union president Bob McDevitt wrote. “Without generous subsidies, Revel would not have been built. In total, Revel received promises of over $300 million in aid from New Jersey, including a $2.6 million grant from the NJ Department of Labor.”

McDevitt said “Revel had already set a bad precedent in Atlantic City” by setting term limits of four to five years for most customer service employees including dealers, beverage servers and others in close contact with customers.

The casino said it would require employees to re-apply for those jobs after their term limits expired to guard against them becoming complacent in their dealings with customers.

McDevitt said Revel has been ramping up its use of part-time workers since it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in March, a process that was completed in May. While the city’s average has remained between 12 to 13 percent, Revel’s use of part-timers has reached 29 percent in the casino’s most recent filings to the state Casino Control Commission, as of Aug. 1.

Only the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, with 6,146 employees, had more part-time employees than Revel, although the percentage at Borgata is just under 21 percent.

Revel has said it continues to look for ways to reduce expenses and become profitable following its emergence from bankruptcy. In addition to the two rounds of layoffs, it ended company contributions to employee 401k accounts last month.

Its bankruptcy case enabled it to wipe away $1.2 billion of its $1.5 billion in debt, in return for granting lenders an 82 percent ownership stake. For the first six months of this year, Revel’s operating loss widened to $81.6 million, compared with a loss of $35.1 million in the same period last year.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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