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Atlantic City Casino Workers Authorize Strike Next Month

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) -- Casino workers in Atlantic City authorized their leaders to call a strike against the gambling houses if they don't get a new contract in a matter of weeks. The treat comes as the summer tourism season is in full swing.

Emotions ran high Wednesday as 96% of Atlantic City union casino workers voted to authorize a strike.

They say it's something they don't want to do but may have to.

"What do you want? Contracts! When do you want it? Now!"

Chants as unwavering as their resolve came Wednesday night as Atlantic City casino workers made a move toward change.

"I'm ready, I'm ready for fight. I'm ready for fight because it's too much," one worker said. "The company don't want to listen, they don't want to give nothing to nobody."

On Wednesday, thousands of members from Unite Here Local 54 walked into the Atlantic City Convention Center to cast their vote.

By end of the day, the tallies were counted and a strike was authorized against the biggest gambling houses in the city.

"I caution the industry not to take this lightly. They need to take this seriously," union president Bob McDevitt said. "This is a no [expletive] thing."

The move means that Borgata, along with Caesar's, Harrah's and Tropicana, have until July 1 and Hard Rock until July 3 to meet the union's demands or else they strike.

For anyone calling their bluff, members say they've been on the picket line in the past.

"Historically speaking, we've always fought for our health care and not economics. This go around, we're fighting for the economics," Ruthann Joyce, a bartender at Harrah's, said.

This time, they're asking for better wages -- around $18 an hour.

"We have put up so much the past couple of years to make sure companies make the money, but now, they are making the money they forgot about us," Iris Sanchez, a housekeeper at Caesar's, said.

While a strike is not yet certain, they say this sends a message.

"They have to do what is right," Unite Here Local 54 Vice President Javier Soto said.

CBS3 also reached out to Caesar's Entertainment. We have not heard back. Again, the casinos have until July 1 to reach a deal.

CBS3's Jan Carabeo contributed to this report.

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