Casino workers settle flagship contracts:

In an agreement that could have significant implications for locked- out San Francisco hotel workers, striking casino workers in Atlantic City today are expected to ratify a deal that offers lucrative benefits but abandons the union’s strategy to synchronize the expiration of labor contracts across the nation. Most notably, the proposed contract for 10,000 housekeepers, cooks, food and beverage servers, bartenders, porters and others offers employer-paid health insurance for five years, the polar opposite of the trend for cost- sharing in the American workplace. In tentatively accepting the five-year proposal late Monday, the union abandoned its campaign for a three-year contract that, with an expiration date in 2007, would have put those workers in the same negotiating cycle with union casino workers in Las Vegas. That kind of labor symmetry would have greatly strengthened the union’s bargaining position. “This is a blockbuster contract and the rank and file made the decision, with a contract of that magnitude, with economics and job security, to accept the employer’s five-year proposal,” said John Wilhelm, president of the union’s hospitality division.

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