As of 5:59 a.m., on October 10, 2016, the Trump Taj Mahal became the 5th casino to shut down in Atlantic City, New Jersey since 2014. Almost 3,000 individuals are without jobs after billionaire owner Carl Icahn was unable to get union workers to accept a loss of health care and pension benefits. With the loss of jobs, Atlantic City has seen over 10,000 individuals lose employment via casino closings in the past two years.
On the front door of the casino, at the entrance near the Boardwalk, a poster was attached by picketers which read: ‘We held the line’. Employees in the union went on strike on the 1st of July after their benefits involving pension and health care were taken away by Icahn due to a deal in bankruptcy court. Icahn then decided a short time later to shut down the venue by October due to the fact that there was no way for the venue to turn a profit.
President of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, Bob McDevitt, stated that most employees felt they could not take having their pension and health care taken away. He compared the feeling of employees to a Popeye moment, stating: “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more’. Individuals employed by the casino made a choice that they were not going to accept terms of employment and benefits that were worse than everyone else’s. McDevitt applauds their actions as for the first time in 30 years, workers stood up to Icahn and made him throw in the towel.
It was on the 3rd of August that Icahn stated he had enough with investing $350 million and owning the venue. He decided to close the casino, afraid that $100 million more would be lost if he remained open. Today, Icahn, stated it is a sad day for Atlantic City. Like many of the employees at the Taj Mahal, Icahn stated he wished the outcome had been different.
Over the past few months, other casinos had been involved in union issues as well. On the 30th of June, the union was able to reach new contracts with four of the five Atlantic City casinos involved, including the Icahn-owned Tropicana. Extensions for negotiations were granted to the Golden Nugget, Resorts, and Borgata as the union reported earlier that the properties were negotiating in good faith.
Since 2014, a total of five casino venues have closed. The Taj now joins the Showboat, Atlantic Club, Revel and Trump Plaza as venues that are no longer operational in the state. Atlantic City is now home to only seven casinos. Revel is expected to reopen in 2017 under Glen Straub’s ownership and will be known as TEN.