|By Donald Wittkowski, The Press of
Atlantic City, Pleasantville, N.J.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 24, 2011--ATLANTIC CITY -- The New Jersey AFL-CIO is urging conventions to boycott Tropicana Casino and Resort until the gaming hall reaches a new contract agreement with three trade unions.
Local 68 of the Operating Engineers, the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters Local 255 and the Painters & Allied Trades District Council 711 are currently embroiled in a contract dispute with Tropicana.
Charles Wowkanech, president of the New Jersey AFL-CIO, issued a statement Monday denouncing Tropicana's bargaining stance as an "outrageous action." He called on convention planners to stay away from Tropicana as long as the contract dispute continues.
"The Tropicana, under the direction of billionaire investor Carl Icahn, has refused to accept the industry-wide standard, and is seeking to eliminate our members' defined benefit pension, as well as seeking an additional $5 per hour wage concession," Wow-kanech said in the statement.
Tropicana, which is owned by Icahn, is the lone holdout in the contract negotiations. Atlantic City's 10 other casino hotels have reached new agreements with the trade unions.
Wowkanech wants convention planners to send letters to Tropicana saying that they "will refrain from doing business with them until this issue is resolved."
Tropicana issued a statement saying, "We have agreed to continue to bargain in good faith, with hopes that we will get to an agreement that benefits all parties."
The labor dispute has already cost Tropicana business. Showing its support for the unions, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee transferred its annual convention in Atlantic City two weeks ago from Tropicana to Bally's Atlantic City.
On May 12, about 200 union workers rallied on the Boardwalk in a show of solidarity for the unions that are negotiating with Tropicana. The old contracts for the operating engineers, carpenters and painters expired on May 12, but both sides agreed to extend negotiations for two weeks.
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