Billionaire and owner of the Trump Taj Mahal casino, Carl Icahn had announced earlier this month that he intended to shut down the troubled Trump Taj Mahal casino on October 10 as a result of the casino continually losing money and the prolonged disputes the casino was having with the UNITE HERE Local 54 union.
The UNITE HERE Local 54 led by President Bob McDevitt had launched an on-going strike from July 1 after the union and the Trump Taj Mahal management were unable to reach a mutual decision on the healthcare coverage and benefits that casino employees were expecting. The closure of the Trump Taj Mahal casino will leave close to three thousand employees out of work and current market conditions in Atlantic City will make it very hard for all of them to find employment within the struggling casino industry.
The Union had tried to re-negotiate with the Trump Taj Mahal casino to see if they can finally work out a deal and call off the strike. The union has proposed during recent negotiations that they are willing to call off the strike, if they are paid an additional $1.3 million over the last proposal that the Trump Taj Mahal offered. The new proposal wants the Trump Taj Mahal casino to restore paid breaks immediately; pay same healthcare benefits as the rest of the workers in the city effective January 1, 2017; return the housekeepers workload to industry standards immediately; restore subcontracting protections for workers immediately and implement the Tropicana contract from September 1, 2017.
The casino is estimated to have lost more than $150 million as a result of the labor dispute, which the union calls a “vendetta”. The union believes that this proposal gives the casino sufficient time to rebuild its business while compensating the workers for the money they have lost. However, Icahn and the Tropicana management which runs operations at the Trump Taj Mahal stated that there would be no more negotiations and that the casino would shut down as planned.
In a statement, Tony Rodio, president of the Tropicana casino said “This was not a negotiating session. As previously announced, the Taj Mahal will close its doors on October 10, 2016. Bob McDevitt and the Taj bargaining committee have no one to blame but themselves for this sad outcome. If McDevitt cared even one iota about the future of the employees he would have allowed them to vote on the proposal we offered five weeks ago based on his recommendations, which we believe could have saved the Taj. But in the end he blindsided us and the employees because closing the Taj served his personal purposes”.
Icahn has wanted employees of the Trump Taj Mahal to sacrifice their health benefits in order to turn things around at the casino. Many Taj Mahal employees have been forced to depend on subsidized taxpayers health insurance, while some have relied on public assistance programs such as food stamps. Employees have witnessed an increase of around $0.80 in raises over the last decade. Carl Icahn is yet to file a petition with New Jersey gaming regulators to get the required permission to close down the casino.
Statistical graph credit: UNITE HERE! Gaming research.