Police in Atlantic City have arrested protesting casino workers blocked the entrance to the Tropicana Casino and Resort.

About 50 union members wearing lime green shirts with the phrase "Protecting the Promise" sat down along Pacific Avenue, near the casino's front entrance Friday night.

Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, says actions against the casino will continue unless it agrees to a new contract and reinstates employee pension plans it canceled in favor of direct cash payments to workers.

The dispute began earlier this year when the Tropicana declared an impasse in contract talks with the union.

 

CASINO SAYS PROTEST HAD LITTLE EFFECT

Tropicana president Tony Rodio said the demonstration, which lasted about 30 minutes, barely affected the casino. "Inside the building, you can't even tell this is going on," he said as he watched the arrests from the curb. "Frankly, I'm embarrassed for them. This is just silly."

Rodio said the casino is more determined than ever that its contributions to the old pension plan are over.
"There is absolutely zero -- and please emphasize the word `zero' -- chance that we are going to stay in that pension plan," he said.

Rodio burst out laughing when asked if he was concerned the union may eventually call a strike against the Tropicana. "If they strike, in the first day, such a large percentage of them will cross the picket line it won't even be funny," he said.

McDevitt says the demonstration is just the first step in what he promises will be an escalating campaign of pressure against the Tropicana if the contract impasse continues.

"This is the first; it will not be the last," he said. "We're going to keep ratcheting things up until they agree to a fair contract and save the pensions our employees worked so hard for."

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)