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SERVICE BACK TO NORMAL AFTER ATLANTIC CITY STRIKE

Gamblers can finally get drinks with their chips now that cocktail waitresses and other unionized workers at casino hotels here have returned to work.

Workers at nine of the city's 12 casinos returned to work beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday after a settlement ended a three-day strike that left hotel guests without room service, clean linens and valet parking. The strike, which also involved cooks, bartenders, banquet waiters and others, forced the hotels to close many of their restaurants.

"We're very, very happy it's been resolved," said Francis McCarthy, executive vice president of finance for Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, which runs three casino hotels.

The 14,000-member Local 54 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International reached a tentative, five-year agreement during secret talks overnight Thursday. A ratification vote was set for Tuesday.

Under the new pact, subcontracted restaurants in the casinos can remain non-union, and any new operations that come in can still be subcontracted. But workers who would have lost jobs under the old pact would have them protected.

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