ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ More than 1,500 striking casino hotel workers took their contract dispute to the streets Friday, staging a march and sit-in that led to 85 arrests.
In a raucous but nonviolent demonstration, members of Local 54 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union marched off the Boardwalk to a nearby street, where police made the prearranged arrests. Fellow union members roared their approval.
The union went on strike Oct. 1 against seven of the city's 12 casinos. All remain open and operating, but gamblers have complained of dirty bathrooms, poor service and being forced to eat off paper plates.
About 10,000 bartenders, bell captains, food servers and hostesses walked out at Harrah's Atlantic City, Showboat Casino-Hotel, Resorts Atlantic City, Bally's Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City, Tropicana Casino and Resort and the Atlantic City Hilton.
The main sticking point is the length of the contract. Union officials want a three-year deal whose expiration would coincide with contracts of sister unions in Las Vegas, Chicago and elsewhere.
Casino officials, who want a five-year contract, fear coinciding contract expirations would give the unions the power to shut down casinos in Atlantic City, Las Vegas and other jurisdictions should talks stall in 2007.