Carl Icahn has put a lot of money into the Trump Taj Mahal in an effort to save the Atlantic City casino, but there’s been one group that he hasn’t been on the best of terms with, to put it lightly: Unite-HERE Local 54, the union that represents workers at the casino.
Icahn and the union have had plenty of harsh words for each other over the past few months, but Icahn may have just ratcheted up the rhetoric even further.
Letter Calls Casino Contributions Exorbitant
In a letter sent to members of the union, the Trump Taj Mahal’s future owner called out the union’s leadership, saying that they were essentially extorting money from the casino by picketing the building and attempting to hold on to their previous health plan.
“Over the last five years, while the Taj Mahal has gone bankrupt not just once, but twice, your Unite-HERE health plan has made $140 million in net income,” Icahn wrote in the letter. “Yet even against the backdrop of your employer entering bankruptcy for the second time in five years, your union leadership continues to demand that the Taj make exorbitant contributions to the profitable Unite-HERE heath plan, or else suffer labor unrest.”
Icahn earlier won a ruling from a bankruptcy court that determined he could break existing contracts with the union, which would allow him to end the current health insurance and pension plans that union workers agreed to.
Icahn would instead have workers take subsidies and apply for health care plans under the exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act. The union is appealing this ruling, but Icahn says that if they should win that appeal, he would likely close the casino.
Icahn Says Tactics Remind Him of “Bygone Era”
In the letter, Icahn went on to compare the tactics of union leaders to those of unscrupulous characters of the past.
“It all reminds me of that bygone era when organized crime would demand grocers pay for protection, or suffer bricks being thrown through their store windows,” he wrote. “The only real difference here is that instead of throwing bricks through the Taj Mahal’s windows, your union instead organizes strikes, picketing, boycotts and other attacks to deter customers from patronizing the Taj Mahal.”
That picketing has continued in recent weeks. Last Friday, union members demonstrated again, the fifth time they have done so since the bankruptcy judge’s decision last October.
“Carl Icahn has decided to run the Taj Mahal into the ground while he’s waiting to take it over,” said union president Bob McDevitt. “Today we are saying we’re not going to take this anymore.”
Icahn Approved to Take Over Taj Mahal
Last Thursday, a bankruptcy judge approved a plan that will see Icahn take over Trump Entertainment Resorts, the parent company of the Taj Mahal. Icahn will swap $286 million worth of debt he owns in the company in exchange for that ownership once the company emerges from bankruptcy.
“The Taj will remain open,” said US Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross at a hearing last week. “And it will be a successful venture.”
That approval came just days after the casino reached an agreement with Donald Trump that will allow the Taj Mahal to keep the Trump name attached to it for the foreseeable future. Trump and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, had been fighting to have their family name removed from the venue.