While workers from the Trump Taj Mahal approach the two-week mark on the picket lines, Unite Here Local 54 workers from Caesars, Bally’s, and Harrah’s in Atlantic City have approved upwards of $44 million worth of contracts.
On Monday, workers from the three casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment approved what is, according to the union, one of the best contracts in its history. The three Caesar’s properties along with the Tropicana reached agreements on the eve of the walk-out on June 30. On Thursday, the contract reached with unionized workers from the Tropicana is scheduled to be voted on, after which time the details of the agreement will be released. Five thousand of the union’s 9,600 workers, including various hospitality staff, are covered by the agreements with the employees from the four Atlantic City casinos.
Workers were seeking restoration of the part of its package the union gave up during contract talks in 2011 when the casinos were struggling. That includes upwards of a week of paid vacation, an hourly wage increase of $3 to be implemented over five years in increments of .60 cents, as well as contributions by employers to the union’s health fund in order to maintain benefits at their current levels.
After contract negotiations on June 30 failed to produce an agreement that could be recommended to the membership, the casino’s approximately 950 union workers, including housekeepers, servers, cooks, and bellmen and other hospitality staff, walked off the job and remain on the picket lines. Billionaire business magnate Carl Icahn owns both the Tropicana and the Taj Mahal. In March last year, Icahn took over the Taj Mahal through a bankruptcy restructuring plan.
In 2014, the company filed for bankruptcy protection and the cost savings it sought were imposed by a federal bankruptcy judge. They included ending pension and health insurance benefits for unionized workers. Icahn said last month that considering the current situation in Atlantic City, the benefits that Taj Mahal workers were receiving were not feasible. Then, last month, a challenge by the union attempting to restore what was lost was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court when it let stand previous rulings by lower courts in favor of the former Trump Entertainment Resorts, which was run by Donald Trump, Icahn’s friend, and fellow billionaire.
After the strike began, Icahn said that he thought the deal that was offered by the casino would be accepted by union members, but according to UNITE HERE Local 54 President Bob McDevitt, the offer was a “shadow” of what was received by the union from the other three casinos, according to the Press of Atlantic City.
According to a news release from the union, a protest is scheduled today at Icahn’s Fifth Avenue offices in Manhattan by the striking workers from the Taj Mahal and activists. Striking workers will, according to the release, “give first-hand testimony about how Icahn’s obsessive focus on short-term profits has devastated working families.” After the rally, the group will march on Trump Tower.