Bob McDevitt, President of the Unite Here Local 54 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is stepping down from his leadership position. Effective May 1, he will become chairman of Unite Here’s retirement fund. He will be succeeded by Donna DeCaprio, the current financial secretary-treasurer, and McDevitt’s longtime lieutenant.
At 61 years of age, he is Local 54’s longest-serving president, having first secured the top spot in 1996. McDevitt will be leaving on a high note, as he received 70% of the vote in his 11th and final election. It was his highest vote total ever.
“It has been an honor to serve as President of Local 54 for the last 26 years,” McDevitt said, as reported by PlayNJ, in a March 1 letter to the union’s nearly 10,000 members. “I am deeply grateful for the trust and confidence you have placed in me during that time.”
A 102-day union strike in 2016 led to the closure of the former Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. McDevitt and the property’s owner, Carl Icahn, were blamed for the loss of nearly 2,000 jobs. In 2018, when the property reopened as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, McDevitt said he felt “vindicated.”
In 2020, McDevitt, along with Resorts Casino Hotel owner Morris Bailey and former New Jersey Senator Ray Lesniak, spearheaded a failed attempt to change Atlantic City’s form of government. Mayor Marty Small Sr. and City Council led a counter-attack that resulted in one of the city’s ugliest political campaigns, with both sides accusing the other of manipulating AC residents.
Last year, contract negotiations between Local 54 and AC’s nine casinos almost led to a Fourth of July weekend labor strike. Ultimately, all seven operators agreed to new contracts with increased wages and benefits for Local 54 members.
More recently, McDevitt sparred with state legislators in Trenton over a proposed bill to ban smoking in Atlantic City casinos. The union and the casino industry believe a ban will put AC at a competitive disadvantage. Meanwhile, dealers (who are not represented by Local 54) testified in support of a ban arguing their health is more important than the casinos’ bottom line.
The newly appointed President, DeCaprio, said: “As I move on to my new role, I have a great sense of pride and accomplishment. Together, we have achieved many things, from securing fair wages and benefits for our members to advocating for important causes that affect our community and the world at large.”