Here she comes?

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It takes a special kind of mind to plan a strike. To head up a truly tail-kicking labor action, you need to know your enemy's weaknesses and then be able to go after them with a chainsaw. Just as important, you need really, really good timing.

In short, you need exactly what Atlantic City is waking up to this morning following last night's walkout by employees at nine major casino hotels. The level of organizational finesse that can pull 14,000 workers off their jobs four days before the Miss America Pageant is enough to send one's tiara spinning.

The dispute between the casino and Local 54 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees international, which involves the union's displeasure with the casinos' penchant for employing non-union subcontractors, went to the shoe leather yesterday at midnight when the union's five-year contract ran out.

Striking workers include bartenders, banquet waiters, cocktail servers, maids, maitre d's, cooks and many other rank-and-filers who keep the hotels running. In other words, the very people who major beauty pageant organizers, not to mention contestants, need the most right now.

Still, the strikers may be underestimating their hostages. You don't make it to the Miss America Pageant without knowing how to get what you want. It should be one hell of a week along the boardwalk.

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