After Trump Taj Mahal’s management company, Las Vegas-based Tropicana Entertainment, permanently withdrew a contract offer it made to some 1,000 striking workers at the Atlantic City casino on Monday, it’s looking increasingly like the impasse may drag out for some time.
The 5pm July 18 deadline came and went without Unite-Here Local 54 accepting the Taj Mahal Casino Resort’s contract offer, which includes restoration of contributions toward the employee health insurance plan given up by the union during contract talks in 2011, but at a lower level than other casinos, effectively ensuring that the strike would enter its fourth week.
Key issues, such as health care, could prolong the strike, said Deb Figart, a Stockton University economics professor. Figart said, “I suspect the strike is not going to end quickly because there is too much at stake,” and, “If benefits such as health insurance, pensions, and paid breaks and paid time off are agreed to, then there could be a domino effect, “according to the Press of Atlantic City.
Since July 1, approximately 1,000 housekeepers, cocktail servers, cooks, bartenders, bellmen, and other service workers from the boardwalk casino have been on strike after contract negotiations between the union and casino owner Icahn Enterprises failed to produce an agreement. According to union officials, the two sides haven’t held talks in over two weeks. Billionaire business magnate Carl Icahn owns both the Tropicana and the Taj Mahal and in March last year, took over the Taj Mahal through a bankruptcy restructuring plan. 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 news agency.
On July 11, unionized workers from workers from three casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment in Atlantic City, Caesars, Bally’s, and Harrah’s in Atlantic City approved upwards of $44 million worth of contracts, which according to the union was one of the best contracts in its history. The Tropicana reached an agreement with the union on the eve of the strike.
It appears as if both sides are preparing for what could potentially be a long contract dispute. McDevitt called on the labor community to show its strength and said, “This property is crippled. The longer this company refuses to meet the standards of a decent contract, the more damage is done to the customer base, which will find new homes, as they are doing already. The longer this goes on, the more it hurts the company,” according to the Associated Press.
On Thursday, the union turned up the heat when hundreds of picketers, some of whom traveled great distances to show their support for the striking workers, surrounded the Taj Mahal. Among the protesters were picketers from unions in Connecticut, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, and New York, as reported by the news agency.