An anti-smoking activist has lost his casino job at the Tropicana Casino and Resort after 26 years.
Vince Rennich, a table games supervisor, doesn’t buy the argument that his dismissal was part of a larger staff reduction as the new owners reorganize the property.
“They threw me under the bus,” the Somers Point man said Monday. “They took the opportunity to get rid of me.”
A Tropicana spokeswoman declined comment on the reason behind the layoff. But since Columbia Entertainment took over for Aztar Corp., a couple hundred employees have been let go.
“This is not an easy thing. We’re sensitive to the people who work here,” said Tropicana president and CEO Fred Buro The casino offered a six-week severance package, Rennich, 49, said.
Rennich sued the Tropicana last summer, alleging failure to protect employees against secondhand smoke on the casino floor. Rennich, a nonsmoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago and had part of his lung removed.
Rennich said he never saw the firing coming.
“I didn’t think they had the nerve to do it,” he said. “How can you do that to someone. I’m devastated. I have no job, no benefits. Health insurance will cost me $800 month. Who’ll hire a guy with lung cancer who is suing the casino industry?”
He also ruled out going to court to get his job back at the Tropicana “I don’t want them if they don’t want me,” he said.
Rennich said he will continue the fight for a full smoking ban on the casino floor. “This is not about me. It’s what’s happening in Atlantic City. It’s not OK for us to die.”
Last year, the state enacted a smoking ban, but exempted the casinos for fear of an economic downturn. Atlantic City council introduced its own ordinance to close the loophole, but last month backed off, approving an amendment to permit separate smoking areas on 25 percent of the casino floor. Plans for the separation must be submitted to the state Department of Community Affairs by mid-September, five months after the ordinance takes affect April 15.
The state has since revisited the exemption. Last week, the Senate Health Committee approved a measure to ban smoking on the gaming floor. Rennich testified at the hearing.
Tropicana’s Buro last week said the casinos would likely go smoke-free by installing gaming-free smoking lounges.
“That seems to be the most practical way,” he said.
Rennich supports the move. “We pitched that idea to them. This is all about worker’s safety. We’re not trying to get people to stop smoking. But no one should have to die to earn a paycheck,” he said.
Source: Courier Post