NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
MR. EGGIE: Yes, ma'am.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Thank you.
MR. EGGIE: Good evening, Chairwoman James and Commissioners. My name is Bud Eggie, and I represent the Carpenters Local 623.
I would like to take this opportunity to describe the working environment in Atlantic City area before and after 1976 referendum approving casino gaming in Atlantic City.
Before the referendum, Local 623 represented approximately 300 carpenters and work opportunities were scarce. If you worked six months per year, it was considered a good year.
Most of our members worked a second job to survive. Many of our brightest young people felt it necessary to leave the South Jersey area in order to take advantage of employment opportunities elsewhere.
Today Local 623 represents over 1,000 carpenters, and work opportunities are abundant for our members working in construction, casino maintenance, mill carpenter shops, and the convention industry.
Today our members work 11 to 12 months per year. Our members with children that wish to attend college can now afford to pay tuition without having to work a second job.
Before the referendum our apprentice training program consisted of shared space in the Atlantic County Vocation School and was only available in the evenings. The demand for trained carpenters to install the most advanced building and construction materials became so great that the Carpenters Educational Fund constructed a 25,000 square state-of- the-art training facility and is currently adding another 10,000 square feet, which is located 20 minutes west of Atlantic City.
This facility is currently used for apprentice training and journeyman upgrade programs.
Casinos and contractors employing our members may request specialized training for the new- to-the-market products that require a factory representative to assist our instructors at the training facility during classes.
The training is completed and the members are certified before the project starts. Hence, the employees are familiar with the product so there is no lost time, and the job is completed in an expeditious fashion.
Our apprenticeship program is so comprehensive that applicants often wait in line for 12 hours to get an application. Our membership is very stable. Many are college educated and work for their entire career at the carpentry trade. They earn fair wages and benefits for their work, and they're involved in many volunteer activities, including construction of parks for the children, renovation work in numerous churches, and we hold golf and fishing tournaments annually where the proceeds are donated to benefit the South Jersey Cancer Fund.
Casino gaming has improved the quality of life for every working carpenter, whether employed directly or indirectly in the industry.
Commissioners, I remember the good old days and hope they never return.
I wish to conclude with a thank you to the gaming industry for the much improved quality of life they provide all their employees.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Thank you.