Atlantic City Casino workers continue their fight for a smoke-free work environment. Their final battleground was, unexpectedly, the senator’s office.
Actors Casino employees against the effects of smoking (pause) and United casino workers (UAW) were organizing a protest against Senator Vince Polestina The final change of heart. Polistina, who previously supported smoke-free movements, recently agreed to allow casinos to seek compromises.
As temperatures dropped outside, activists were invited to discuss the matter indoors.
CEASE says workers will have to ‘volunteer’
Under New Jersey’s smoke-free air law, casinos can designate up to a quarter of their indoor gaming space as a smoking area. Opponents of this exemption say it endangers the health of casino workers who have to endure smoke for hours on end. However, casino operators believe the ban will hurt their business.
While proponents of the ban point out that casinos in other states have banned smoking with little or no impact on their business, air conditioning operators remain adamant that they don’t want to stop smoking.
As a result, some have suggested compromise measures, such as providing enclosed smoking areas. Under this solution, only volunteer workers will work in these spaces. However, CEASE argues that operators will simply force workers to volunteer.
According to CEASE, casinos have previously placed a pregnant woman and someone battling cancer at smoking tables.
Polistina will still vote for the smoking ban
Polestina told activists that he agrees with them and that New Jersey should stop indoor smoking. However, he was forced to change his position due to politics, noting that the South Jersey Democratic delegation recently lost seats, making the fight for a smoking ban an uphill battle.
In addition, Polistina pointed out that UNITE HERE LOCAL 54, another union representing casino employees, opposes the ban because it also believes it will cause customers to move elsewhere. Local 54 represents workers in the hospitality industry and has a much larger membership than the UAW, giving it a lot of influence when it comes to such matters.
Despite this, Senator Polestina has promised to vote in favor of banning smoking in casinos if the measure is put to a vote in the Senate.