In attempt to fight back against the cancellation of the casino union at one Atlantic City casino, the Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union sent letters to customers of the Trump Entertainment Resorts Taj Mahal, urging the consumers to conduct business somewhere else. The casino has filed a motion in court to see the union contact everyone who was sent the letter to explain the information given was not accurate. Trump Entertainment has accused the union of using the first amendment and federal labor laws to begin ‘economic warfare’ against the Taj, which is already struggling financially.
According to the union, the communications with the customers of the Taj Mahal is protected by free speech as well as the Norris-LaGuardia Act. Under the Act, the union is claiming the federal court is prohibited from banning publicity in regards to a labor disagreement. The union began their campaign against the Taj after the judge granted the Trump Entertainment group the option to cancel a contract with the union at the casino and put in place company terms.
In the campaign, the union called or sent letters to specific groups that had planned events at the casino, urging the customers to take their business somewhere else due to the labor dispute. In response, certain groups did decide to go elsewhere for their events.
In a court filing by the Trump Entertainment group, the casino operator stated that they believe the union is taking ‘carte blanche to engage in economic warfare’ due to the federal labor law and first amendment rights. Trump Entertainment feels the campaign by the union was not used to inform patrons of the issues between the two but to discourage patronage which is being used as an ‘economic weapon’ to place pressure on the company.
Earlier this week, Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross heard the arguments of Trump Entertainment Resorts in the matter and did not issue a ruling on the subject at the time of the hearing. There has been no word as to when a decision will be made in this case.
The Taj Mahal property recently averted liquidation in bankruptcy with the help of multi-billionaire Carl Icahn. Going beyond the courtrooms, Icahn has likened the unions tactics to those of mobsters. In a letter to members of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, Icahn wrote, “It all reminds me of that bygone era when organized crime would demand grocers pay for protection, or suffer bricks being thrown through their store windows,” He later seemed to blame the unions for the demise of four Atlantic City casinos to bolster his case in the media.