RODRIGUEZ
Mary Godleski  /  AP
Cocktail waitresses, housekeepers, bellhops and other members of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees union walked off the job and hit the picket lines around daybreak Friday, some in the middle of their shifts.
updated 10/1/2004 2:27:30 PM ET 2004-10-01T18:27:30

Front-office executives served drinks, lawyers flipped hamburgers and accountants made beds Friday after about 10,000 union workers went on strike at seven of Atlantic City's casinos.

Cocktail waitresses, housekeepers, bellhops and other members of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees union walked off the job and hit the picket lines around daybreak, some in the middle of their shifts.

Dealers and others holding gambling-related jobs were not part of the dispute, and the 24-hour casinos remained open, though service was curtailed at some.

Denise Kelly and her boyfriend were drinking beer and playing the slot machines at Bally's Atlantic City at 6 a.m. when their cocktail waitress quit mid-shift.

"She says, `This is your last beer because we're going on strike. Bye,'" said Kelly, 31, of Long Beach, N.Y.

The striking workers have been without a contract since their five-year deal expired Sept. 15. They are demanding a three-year contract, protection against the use of nonunion restaurant workers, and casino-funded health care.

"It's something we have to do," said Veronica Lesniak, 44, a banquet server at Bally's who picketed along the Boardwalk. "I hope to God it can be settled quickly and we can be back at work, where we all need to be."

At the Tropicana Casino and Resort, room service was canceled, while several casinos closed restaurants because they had no one to work in them.

Timothy Wilmott, the $1.2 million-a-year chief operating officer of Harrah's Entertainment, was pressed into duty serving water to customers at Harrah's Atlantic City.

Harrah's planned to fly in 300 people from Chicago and Las Vegas this weekend to spell its tired replacement workers.

Atlantic City has 12 casinos. The strike hit Bally's Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah's Atlantic City, Showboat Hotel-Casino, the Atlantic City Hilton, Resorts Atlantic City and the Tropicana Casino and Resort.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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