1,434 of Atlantic City’s Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino workers have been served layoff notices, warning them they may lose their jobs on May 10. By that point, the hotel ownership is expected to have transitioned from the current owners, to the new owners, the Meruelo Group.
The notices are largely seen as a formality however, and one legally required by the current owner in the event the new owner does not wish to retain some or all of the existing staff. The layoff notices are required under New Jersey’s WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) system.
Curiously, neither Trump nor Meruelo has taken credit for the filing of the layoff notices, which happened this week with the New Jersey Department of Labor. Trump attorney John Donnelly flatly denied that Trump had filed the layoffs, while Meruelo has stated they wouldn’t even have the legal right to do so, as they are not the current owner. The sale of the hotel is expected to be finalized by May 31.
However, despite the notices Meruelo Group has every intention of retaining as many current employees as possible according to the company’s president and chief investment officer, Xavier Gutierrez.
“Absolutely, a substantial number will be rehired, but we’re not sure how that will transpire,” Gutierrez said earlier this week in an interview.
The layoff notices and sale come at a time when the Trump Plaza Casino has plummeted to the bottom of the Atlantic City casino rankings. The casino grossed just $102.5 million from slots and table games in 2012, and its fortunes haven’t improved any in 2013. Earnings for February were down 42% from the same period a year ago to just $5.2 million, also dead last amongst the twelve Atlantic City casinos.
Industry sources expect Meruelo will pour their resources into turning the casino around and lifting it from the bottom of the rankings.
“We think this company will spend quite a bit of money on the property to bring it up to where it needs to be, much like Golden Nugget and Resorts did,” casino union president Bob McDevitt said of Meruelo’s purchase of the Trump Plaza.
McDevitt added that he does not expect Meruelo to make any job cuts once they officially take over as owners of the hotel and casino.