ATLANTIC CITY (January 19, 2021) – The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority on Tuesday approved a $1.5 million grant to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey to continue the Feed AC program through 2021.
The board also approved a two-year contract with Teamsters Local 331 that will increase the pay of 50 Special Improvement Division workers to $15 per hour and give them additional benefits.
“This contract recognizes the hard work of SID employees who are out when it’s 10 degrees and windy or 95 degrees and sunny, cleaning up and beautifying the Tourism District,” CRDA Executive Director Matt Doherty said of the collective bargaining agreement.
The contract, which covers Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2023, gives year-round workers full benefits and all workers $15 per hour, up from $13.25 per hour, with a 2% raise annually. There is also a ratification bonus of $450, CRDA Chair Bob Mulcahy said.
Mulcahy said the board spent $1.4 million in 2020 on food distribution programs for casino workers and city residents, and said the statute governing CRDA gives it the mission of addressing pressing social and economic needs, as well as development.
About 61% of the people helped by Feed AC in 2020 were casino employees and 35% were city residents, Mulcahy said. The program distributed 2 million pounds of food to 65,000 people.
He said 31.7% of Atlantic City families are projected to be food insecure this year, compared with 18.2% in Atlantic County and 13.5% statewide.
“All of this demonstrates how important it was that we have responded,” Mulcahy said.
Atlantic City’s casinos were ordered to shut down March 16 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and remained closed for nearly four months, resulting in more than $112 million in operating losses and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.
Upon reopening, the casinos were capped at 25% capacity while indoor dining and beverage service on the gaming floor did not resume until early September. Casinos also are limited in hosting large-scale live events, such as concerts, conventions or trade shows.
The CRDA’s next food drive is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at Bader Field off Albany Avenue.
Doherty said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, a board member, has stressed the importance of treating low-wage workers with dignity, adding many SID workers live in Atlantic City and that a pension plan is also part of the agreement.
“A lot of these workers have been with CRDA for a while,” said Local 331 President Marcus King. “This puts them on a path to good citizenship, to be able to raise a family in the city.”
The board also approved final details in the Showboat Hotel Atlantic City’s redevelopment plan for outdoor amenities around its planned water park. The indoor water park received final approval in December.
Doherty said the plan approved Tuesday covered dining venues, cafes, beach bars, cabanas, volleyball, personal watercraft and special events sites. The plan has already been approved by the city Planning Board and council.
Developer and Showboat owner Bart Blatstein thanked the board, prompting Mulcahy to reply, “Get to work, Bart!”
Michelle Brunetti Post – Press of Atlantic City