Atlantic City’s main casino workers’ union said early Friday it will go on strike against the Trump Taj Mahal casino after it reached an agreement with the other four of the five casinos it had been targeting for a strike this weekend.
Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union told the Associated Press (AP) that it was unable to reach an agreement on a new contract with the Taj Mahal hotel, which was taken out of bankruptcy late February and is now owned by billionaire investor Carl Icahn. The union Thursday reached an agreement with Bally’s, Caesars, Harrah’s — all owned by Caesars Entertainment — as well as Tropicana, also owned by Icahn.
“As a result, nearly a thousand cooks, housekeepers, bellmen and servers from the Trump Taj Mahal will walk off the job this morning ahead of the industry’s biggest holiday weekend to fight for decent wages, basic benefits and the future of their middle class livelihoods,” the union said in a statement issued early Friday.
The walkout, involving about 1,000 union members, is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. EDT Friday, spanning over the Fourth of July weekend — one of the busiest time of the year for Atlantic City casinos.
The clash between Icahn and Local 54 leadership, particularly its president, Bob McDevitt, has grown acrimonious and intensely personal. Icahn has likened McDevitt and the union to extortionists, while the union president has called Icahn “a cancer” that needs to be cut out of Atlantic City.
“Few would disagree that the Taj would have closed with thousands of job losses if I hadn’t come in and provided tens of millions in capital to save it and save those jobs,” Icahn said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Trump Taj Mahal hotel was opened and once run by Donald Trump, but apart from a 10 percent stake in the casino's parent company, Trump Entertainment Resorts, for the use of his name — that was also wiped out during its latest bankruptcy — Trump has had no involvement with the company since 2009.
Icahn, who kept the Taj Mahal hotel afloat during its bankruptcy, did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday, the AP reported.
The last Local 54 strike in Atlantic City occurred in 2004 and featured a walkout that lasted 34 days — causing a loss of about $60 million.