Carl Icahn-Owned Trump Taj Mahal Gives Workers Final Strike Ultimatum, Must Resolve by Monday

Posted on: July 15, 2016, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: July 15, 2016, 11:46h.

Workers picketing the Trump Taj Mahal have until 5 pm ET on Monday, July 18 to agree to a new healthcare offer, or it’s off the table for good. That’s the word this week from the Atlantic City casino’s owner, Icahn Enterprises.

Trump Taj Mahal union workers ultimatum
Striking union workers outside the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City also demonstrated outside Donald Trump’s New York offices this week. (Image: Wayne Parry/AP)

The strike at the Taj has been ongoing since Friday, July 1, when around 1,000 bar staff, chefs, porters, and cleaners, organized by Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, walked off the premises in protest at the loss of healthcare and pension benefits.

Action continued over the normally lucrative Independence Day celebrations and has shown no signs of abating. Organizers have said the plan offered up by the casino’s management represents “a shadow” of the healthcare benefits of other Atlantic City casino workers, and that industrial action will continue for “as long as it takes.”

Rightsized Benefits

Carl Icahn rescued the Taj from chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2014. The billionaire corporate raider and activist investor agreed to take on the majority of its $286 million debt as part of the purchase agreement.

He also promised to turn that debt into equity and to invest in the property, but only if Atlantic City and the courts granted him the temporary cessation of worker pension and healthcare benefits.

The courts complied, but now, with some signs of recovery in the Atlantic City casino sector, union workers want their benefits to reflect the uptick. Industry analysts have called the seaside resort’s number of gaming houses “rightsized,” following the closures of several properties over the last few years. Local 54 says its workers want their benefits to be rightsized, too.

Demos Outside Trump’s New York Offices

This week, demonstrators headed for the Big Apple, and chants were heard outside of Donald Trump’s Manhattan offices. Icahn has declared his support for a potential President Trump, who once said that Icahn would make a great Secretary of the Treasury in his theoretical cabinet. Icahn has not expressed any interest in such a position, however.

While the Trump Taj Mahal still bears the name of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, he no longer has any financial interest in the property. Trump bought it in 1988, unfinished, for $230 million, but by the time it had been completed in 1990, construction costs had escalated to $1 billion.

He declared the property bankrupt later that year, and then again in 2004, and the union still blames him for Atlantic City’s woes.

“Both Trump and Icahn took lots of money out of this property, millions of dollars that could have been used to rebuild it and provide good wages and benefits for workers,” union spokesman Ben Begleiter told the Associated Press. “Now Trump thinks Icahn should be running America’s economy. If that happens, then all of America’s workers are in trouble.”