Trump Taj Mahal to Close; Owner Blames Union

by Jim Hall

Trump Taj MahalA prolonged union strike is believed to be the reason why an Atlantic City casino is shutting its doors. The Trump Taj Mahal will be closed after an announcement was released this week by the owners.

Atlantic City has seen better days. Decades ago the town was always bustling with activity as individuals visited the many casinos in the area, enjoy games and entertainment. Yet over the past few years the town has struggled to make ends meet. So much so that in 2014, four of the twelve casinos in the city shut down for good. Now it seems yet another casino will be joining the list of now defunct gaming venues.

Carl Icahn Goes All In For Trump Taj Mahal

Trump Taj Mahal was purchased by Carl Icahn in 2014 when the venue could have closed due to filing for bankruptcy. Icahn decided to try and safe the venue but at the same time made changes that employees were not happy about. The new owner would do away with health care benefits as well as pension to try and help the casino get back on its feet. Icahn even offered to invest $100 million in the project but employees were not happy about the changes.

The Local 54 Unite Here union became involved and wanted to try and get the benefits back for employees including health care and pension. Since July, the venue has been subject to a strike, a strike that actually took place in several venues of the city. Four of five venues were able to come to agreements with employees and the Union but not the Trump Taj Mahal.

Trump Taj Mahal to Close

On Wednesday it was announced that the casino would close. A letter was sent out by Icahn to employees of the venue accusing the union of inciting the group to destroy their own jobs by taking part in the longest strike ever to take place in the main casino workers union of Atlantic City. Icahn stated that officials of the Local 54 were aware that the company had made their final offer but they rejected it anyway, knowing a strike would take place.

The union has been on strike since the 1st of July with the central issue being the restoration of health care and pension benefits. Previous owners of the venue had the benefits stripped away by a bankruptcy judge back in October of 2014. The new owner stated in the letter that the final offer by the company to restore health care, even at a lower level than other casinos, was negotiated with Bob McDevitt, the president of the union.

Tony Rodio is the President of Tropical Entertainment, who released a statement on the matter, citing that the union strike is to blame for the casino closing. Rodio stated that the Taj is losing millions each month and now the strike has shown no path to profitability. The directors cannot allow the Taj to continue to burn through tens of millions of dollars when the union has blocked a path to profitability.

Union Reps Claim Icahn is Being Petty with Closure

McDevitt responded to the closure announcement by stating that the decision by Icahn was ‘petty’ and that Icahn was needlessly burning down the casino. McDevitt stated that for a few million bucks Icahn could have had labor peace and a workforce that is content. But instead, he would rather slam the door short on these long-term workers just to punish them and attempt to break the strike.

The union pointed out that the casino closure is the third in Atlantic City to be shut down while being owned by Icahn.