The saga surrounding the attempt by billionaire investor Carl Icahn to take over the bankrupt Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, and possibly save it, continues. A few days ago, workers from Local 54 of the Casino Workers Union protested in front of Icahn’s New York offices in opposition to his attempts to reopen the casino without their union contracts in place.
Last October, a bankruptcy judge agreed with the investor’s argument that the need to pay millions in health and pension benefits to the hotel’s workers made it impossible to save it. The judge allowed the nullification of the union contract which required said benefits.
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Valerie McMorris, a cocktail server at the Taj Mahal for 25 years, told AP “I feel like we made our point. We were loud and proud on the street right in front of his offices.”
The workers gave Mr. Icahn a letter which said, in part, “You may be someone who came up through the streets of Queens, and you may see yourself as the underdog fighting against entrenched corporate executives. But this time, you aren’t fighting executives with multimillion-dollar salaries and expense accounts. This time you are fighting housekeepers, bartenders, food servers, bell people, cooks and cocktail servers. This time you aren’t fighting for the little guy, you are fighting the little guy.”
Icahn defended himself against accusations that he did not care about the working class people. In an open letter he wrote, “I am fighting for those employees — fighting to save their jobs in the midst of a wholly unstable crisis — and my efforts are being mischaracterized and attacked by a union that exploits those employees for its own gain, ” Icahn wrote
“The only reason the casino is still open, and the only reason you still have jobs, is because, against the advice of almost all of my advisers, I agreed to provide the Taj Mahal with as much as $20 million in additional loans, ” he added.
About the union contract he said, “The truth is that those work rules are from a bygone era when Atlantic City was booming. Today, with a struggling company in a rapidly declining industry, those work rules cannot be sustained.”