Billionaire Carl Icahn has a successful track record of taking bankrupt casinos and turning them around. Icahn decided to take over the struggling Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City which had earlier filed for bankruptcy and has put forward a number of proposals that have been designed to reduce overhead costs and help the Taj Mahal to recover.
Icahn’s proposals to reduce costs including eliminating employee pension plans and health insurance have not gone down well with Taj Mahal employees who have raised their concerns to the trade unions. There have been a number of protests and signed petitions brought before Icahn in the recent past but Carl Icahn is not willing to reconsider his policies.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) has now decided to take the protest one step further and has recently called for all union members to show solidarity by boycotting all Icahn owned or to be owned Atlantic City casinos. The New Jersey State AFL-CIO has requested union members to not provide any business to the Tropicana and the Taj Mahal casinos in Atlantic City.
Prior to AFL-CIO taking issue with Carl Icahn, Local 54 of the Unite-HERE casino workers union had launched a protest against Icahn’s proposals to eliminate employee pension and health insurance. Local 54 had sent out a strong message to Icahn telling him not to play with the lives of employees while he sits in his penthouse. The union authorized a strike against the Taj Mahal casino but is yet to put it into action.
The AFL-CIO union issued a statement which said “We respectfully ask affiliated union members and their friends and family to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at Unite-HERE Local 54, who have borne the brunt of Icahn’s ruthless and greedy assault on workers.”
Carl Icahn remains stubborn on the premise that if the Taj Mahal employees want to see the casino turn around and retain their jobs, then they must be willing to work together with the casino management and be willing to take benefit cuts to keep overhead costs under control. The Taj Mahal’s leadership team got approval in October 2015 from a federal bankruptcy to terminate all of those employee benefits and Icahn is not willing to change that and give into the pressure imposed by the unions.
Icahn had earlier said that the health-plan which is run by the union is a cash cow which generated profits for the union. The union has filed a case against Icahn and an appeals court will decide if those benefits need to be reinstated. Icahn has made it clear that if the courts were to force him to reinstate these terminated employee benefits, then he would withdraw all support from the Taj Mahal casino.