Op-Ed | Union jobs can help New Yorkers thrive during the pandemic

Photo: Ellison Bronze Photography

Not all jobs are created equally. That’s a lesson that we have learned the hard way. Part-time positions with no health insurance, being forced to live paycheck-to-paycheck, not being able to make enough to get by on a daily basis let alone save and plan for the future – that’s the collective experience we, like a lot of other working New Yorkers, shared.

But that all changed when we got our jobs with Resorts World New York City. Now, we make family-sustaining salaries of about $70,000 per year, with cost-free high-quality healthcare and defined pension plans. And we finally have the ability to save money and plan for the unforeseen events that life always seems to throw your way at the worst times. Combined with the strongest workplace protections in the industry thanks to our Union contract, and our jobs at Resorts World are truly unique and game-changing for our families.

We know we’re lucky. Throughout this pandemic, we’ve seen family members, friends and other people in our communities get laid off. We’ve seen friends have their paychecks take drastic cuts due to having their hours reduced. And we’ve heard the horror stories from them about seeing their healthcare disappear, even as the neighborhoods where we live have been some of the hardest hit by COVID.

As employees of Resorts World New York City, we can see the doors that would open for so many people if existing facilities like ours was allowed to grow into a full-scale casino. It’s even more exciting to know that many of those people would look like us, as most of Resorts World’s employees are people of color. Additionally, with a commitment to hire in and around the area, we know a majority of these positions would be filled by friends and neighbors, rather than those coming from outside the community.

These workers would also have a Union that would stand up for them, and in this moment, where we’ve seen a growing divide between protections afforded to union and non-union workers, having a union can mean all the difference in the world.

They would have job security and they wouldn’t have to worry about when their next paycheck was coming in and whether it would cover all their expenses. 

When we were asked to share our stories to show lawmakers why the state and New York families would significantly benefit from accelerating the growth of existing gaming facilities like Resorts World, we were happy to, because we’ve seen how positively our jobs have impacted our lives, and our hope is that more people like us can benefit and reap the rewards of new good-paying Union jobs.

Sometimes it’s hard to truly understand the impact of what a good union job means to a family’s stability and survivability unless you see it for yourself.

Well, look no further than these words because while they come from just three workers among many, it could be many more if the state allowed for an acceleration of the growth of existing gaming facilities like Resorts World…

“With the income I’m making now, my life changed a lot. I’m able to support my son by myself. We’ve got health insurance. I’m able to put money away for my son’s college. Those things I couldn’t do before making $8 an hour.” – Fiore Roman/VIP Ambassador, Resorts World New York City

I remember what it was like before I started at Resorts World in Queens. No healthcare. Bills piling up. Resorts World changed that. My salary doubled. My whole family is covered. We could finally pay our bills. And we kept it all during COVID. Resorts World – they’re doing so much for Queens, my family and this city.” – Annie Ramkirath/Food and Beverage Manager, Resorts World New York City

“Today, I make over $70,000 a year. Being able to provide for my children – it’s been everything to me. We have healthcare, an awesome pension plan, our funds are stacking up for when we’re ready to retire. Expanding a facility like Resorts World, it’s gonna offer more jobs for the community.” – Nathan McFarlane/Slot Attendant, Resorts World New York City

We are fortunate and we are thankful for the good-paying Union jobs we have. We would like that success to be felt by other families too because allowing for the growth of existing gaming facilities now can be the shot in the arm we need we all need in this COVID moment. And we urge the state to make the right decision and take action.

Fiore Roman, Annie Ramkirath and Nathan McFarlane are all employees of Resorts World New York City. They’re currently featured in a social media campaign aimed at raising awareness of the critical role Resorts World New York City plays in good paying union job creation, economic opportunity, and revenue generation for New York’s public schools.