Club Casablanca Reopens After Workers Approve Contract

Inviting customers to "Round Up the Usual Suspects," the Club Casablanca reopened this weekend after a negotiated settlement ended the 10-day employee strike.

The workers, who struck November 1 after negotiations failed to resolve benefit issues, last week won a new three-year contract, which guaranteed continued health benefits, a limited wage increase, and for the first time granted sick and vacation pay.

The Club's downstairs bar opened Saturday night while the restaurant remained closed until yesterday's lunch. Both were shut down when the walk-out began.

The three-year contract reinstates the Union's Blue Cross- Blue Shield Health Plan that management had threatened to cut, said Barbara Rice, business agent for Local 26 of the Hotel, Restaurant, Institutional Employees and Bartenders Union, which represented the strikers.

"The insurance issue was the crucial thing that led to the strike," Rice said yesterday.

The Club, which declared bankruptcy 16 months ago, granted workers one paid sick day in their first and third years of employment, and instituted a vacation plan where all workers receive a one week paid vacation whether they work full time or not, said Rice.

Two Percent Raise

Although wage increases were not the major thrust of the strike, the contract guarantees a 2 percent minimum wage increase for non gratuity workers--bartenders and cooks--after three years of employment.

The contract also institutes an annual pay review policy to address the possibilities of merit increases, said Rice.

Casablanca owners were financially constrained in the negotiations, the owner's labor attorney. Andrew L. Eisenberg, said at the beginning of the strike. The restaurant declared bankruptcy in June of 1983 and is still in the process of paying off creditors, he added.

Store owner and management spokesman Sari Abdul-Jubein refused comment yesterday.

Union members throughout the strike said management's arguments that the restaurant is nearing financial insolvency is just a negotiating ploy.

The Rights of Man

"What we know is that it's a popular busy restaurant that does well. There's no reason they shouldn't offer workers basic rights," Rice said.

Casablanca workers Sunday night celebrated what waitress Margaret H. Brautigan termed "very much a victory."

"We can go back with our heads high...everything we asked for is there in some form," said Rice.