“The 22-month labor dispute at the Trump Taj Mahal has clearly taken its toll. This property is going the wrong way in an industry that’s doing better. The Taj has been impacted financially because Mr. Icahn won’t invest in what they’ve always told us was their number one asset – us.”
-Valerie McMorris, Cocktail Server at Trump Taj Mahal, 26 years.
Carl Icahn has taken hundreds of millions of dollars out of Atlantic City over the past several years. Recently, he has made a public promise to put $100 million into the Trump Taj Mahal. He told the workers they were the most important asset of the property. Now, rather than negotiate with those same workers, he has decided he would rather close down. We have not had an offer from Icahn since the evening of June 30, when workers rejected that proposal and voted to strike. It has been nothing but the usual my way or the highway from Carl Icahn. That’s not trying to reach an agreement; that’s punishing working people for standing up to injustice.
Statement from Bob McDevitt, President of Unite Here Local 54, on Trump Taj Mahal
“How petty. I would never have thought Carl Icahn was so one-dimensional. The great deal-maker would rather burn the Trump Taj Mahal down just so he can control the ashes. For a few million bucks he could have had labor peace and a content workforce, but instead he’d rather slam the door shut on these long-term workers just to punish them and attempt to break their strike. There was no element of trying to reach an agreement here on Icahn’s part; it was always “my way or the highway” from the beginning with Icahn. It is the epitome of the playground bully, who picks up his ball and announces he is going home because nobody else would do it his way. It is truly a shame that such an unscrupulous person has control of billions of dollars.
These workers are exercising their fundamentally American right to stand up for themselves in the face of injustice. Carl Icahn took it personally. This is clearly not a business decision – a few million dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to the money he publicly promised he would put into the Trump Taj Mahal. It’s a classic take-the-money-and-run: Icahn takes hundreds of millions of dollars out of Atlantic City and then announces he is closing up shop. This titan of Wall Street is utterly incapable of making a decision unless it is mean-spirited and benefitting him alone, and he is plagued with indecisiveness when things don’t go his way.
Twenty-two months ago Carl Icahn took away these workers’ healthcare, retirement and dignity. We’ve all been playing Icahn’s game since then. In the end he’ll have to live with what he’s done to working people in Atlantic City, and have to justify whatever myopic prism he is using today to evaluate how, once again, his decision making process makes sense to nobody but himself. This is now the third casino closure Carl Icahn has orchestrated in Atlantic City. The Boardwalk is littered with empty monuments to his greed. Icahn has lost the capacity for self-reflection, the ability to realize that when you are completely alone in your position it just might mean you are wrong.
In the end, these workers stood up for what every other casino worker doing their job in this town has, and what every other casino worker here has had since gaming was introduced to Atlantic City over three decades ago. And, as with playground bullies, we also know that he’ll be back another day, demanding something else based upon the whims of the moment. Thank God there are working people who will stand up to him.
If this is the guy Donald Trump wants to be Treasury Secretary of the United States, then this country is doomed.”
ABOUT UNITE HERE
UNITE HERE represents workers throughout the United States and Canada who work in the hotel, gaming, food, service, airport, textile, manufacturing, distribution, laundry and transportation industries. Learn more at www.unitehere.org.
NJ AFL-CIO President Wowkanech, Striking Taj Mahal Workers Slam Billionaire Carl Icahn for Refusing to Negotiate Fair Contract at Trump Taj Mahal
WHAT: NJ Legislative Leaders, and over 100 striking workers will hold a press conference Monday to announce support for a bill to extend unemployment to striking worker
WHO: Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, NJ AFL-CIO President Charlie Wowkanech, and other elected officials will be joined by 100+ striking Trump Taj Mahal workers.
WHEN: Monday August, 1 2016 at 12:30 PM
WHERE: The steps of the NJ Statehouse, 125 W State St, Trenton, NJ 08608
WHY: One thousand cooks, housekeepers, bellmen, bartenders, cocktail servers, and other service workers from the Trump Taj Mahal have been on strike since July 1. The strike at the Trump Taj Mahal- a casino owned by billionaire Carl Icahn – follows on the heels of agreements set in place with the Tropicana and Caesars Entertainment, which owns Atlantic City’s Caesars, Harrah’s and Bally’s.
The legislation would allow striking workers to receive unemployment benefits beginning after 30 days on strike, ensuring that families aren’t penalized for standing up for their rights on the job.
BACKGROUND: Many workers at the Trump Taj Mahal, including those with years on the job, have seen only $.80 in total raises over the last twelve years. The cost of living in Atlantic City has risen over 25 percent in the same time period. Housekeepers, servers and other casino workers at the Taj Mahal earn an average of less than $12/ hour.
As the sole debtholder between 2010 and 2014, Icahn extracted $350 million from the property, driving it into bankruptcy and then swooping in to take control. He used the bankruptcy proceeding to strip Taj Mahal workers of health benefits and retirement security. Overall, he cut worker compensation in wages and benefits by 35%.
Without health benefits, half of workers at the Trump Taj Mahal rely on taxpayer subsidized health insurance. A third have no health insurance at all, putting them at risk of bankruptcy in the event of an illness and forcing taxpayers to pay for visits to the Emergency Room. Some of the workers rely on other public assistance programs, like food stamps.