Casino clo­sures brings mass un­em­ploy­ment fil­ing

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - BUSINESS -

AT­LANTIC CITY — Car­ry­ing iden­ti­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ments and bit­ter­ness over their sud­den job­less­ness, hun­dreds of ex-casino work­ers be­gan fil­ing for un­em­ploy­ment Wed­nes­day morn­ing, the first at­ten­dees at an as­sis­tance cen­ter that ex­pects to process 5,000 newly laid-off work­ers over the next three days.

The ses­sion at the At­lantic City Con­ven­tion Cen­ter came after a bru­tal week­end that saw two casi­nos, the Show­boat and Revel, close. Of­fi­cials from the state Depart­ment of La­bor and the main casino work­ers’ union, Lo­cal 54 of Unite-HERE, helped dis­placed work­ers file for un­em­ploy­ment and gave them in­for­ma­tion on sign­ing up for health in­surance and other ben­e­fits.

By mid-Septem­ber, At­lantic City, which started the year with 12 casi­nos, will be down to eight, and almost 8,000 peo­ple will be out of work. Trump Plaza is clos­ing Sept. 16, and the At­lantic Club shut down in Jan­uary.

About 300 work­ers were lined up when the doors opened at 9 a.m.; by early af­ter­noon more than 750 had been pro­cessed.

“It’s re­ally de­press­ing,” said Dale Browne, who worked as a house­keeper at Show­boat for 14 years. “Peo­ple have mort­gages, kids in school. We’re afraid the crime rate is go­ing to go up. I want to say we’ll be all right down the road, but right now, it’s rough.”

Ruth Ann Joyce and her hus­band, Michael, were hired to­gether as bar­tenders at Show­boat when it opened in March 1987, and they raised a fam­ily on their casino jobs.

“We made good money. We had great ben­e­fits. We worked hard and we were re­warded for it,” she said. “For the past 27 years, we had the Amer­i­can dream. This clos­ing is a tragedy, and it didn’t have to hap­pen.”

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