We Held The Line.
For 102 days we held the line against Wall Street’s attack on the American worker.
We held the line for our families, who deserve good quality jobs and healthcare.
We held the line against a billionaire taking from us to line his own pockets.
We held the line for our community because we are proud of the middle-class standard we have fought for in Atlantic City.
We are 18 different languages and nationalities united in one voice: Enough is Enough. We stand up for good jobs, with dignity and respect. And we will not let a Wall Street billionaire take that away.
We held the line, and we will be back.
(Atlantic City, NJ)—UNITE HERE Local 54 and its President Bob McDevitt today urged State Senator Steve Sweeney to enter the race for Governor.
“Senator Sweeney has been a steadfast advocate for the working people of Atlantic City and the rest of the State of New Jersey. He has consistently advanced commonsense solutions to the problems facing our state. Senator Sweeney believes every worker deserves a living wage, and he has proven time and again that he is unafraid to take on powerful interests to fight for a brighter future for New Jersey’s working families. He also has a good plan for school funding and is committed to making New Jersey colleges strong and affordable. The middle class in New Jersey needs a champion in the Governor’s office, and Steve Sweeney is the leader who has demonstrated the grit and determination to be that champion, and to make a real difference in the lives of working families throughout the state,” said Bob McDevitt, President of Local 54.
McDevitt continued, “In Atlantic City we know that Senator Sweeney is on our side. When Wall Street wanted to slash and burn wages and benefits, Senator Sweeney was the first elected official to reach out to us and offer his support, and he never wavered in that support. He marched with us shoulder to shoulder and stood by us on the Boardwalk and in the hallways in Trenton. Senator Sweeney has been the most effective voice in our fight to preserve middle class jobs so we can provide for our families and look forward to a brighter future. He is the kind of Governor New Jersey so desperately needs.”
Representing 10,000 men and women, UNITE HERE Local 54 is the largest casino workers union in the state of New Jersey.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, September 8, 2016
Contact: Diana Hussein, [email protected], 313-460-3119
Striking Casino Workers Tell Congress:
Pass Brokaw Act to protect workers from the likes of Carl Icahn
(Washington, D.C.)—Three busloads of striking casino workers travelled from the historic Atlantic City Boardwalk to the halls of the Capital today to lobby Congress about the need for Senate Bill 2720, also known as the Brokaw Act, to protect working people from vulture investors like Carl Icahn.
“Carl Icahn came to Atlantic City, sucked $350 million out of Trump casinos, turned our middle-class jobs into poverty jobs and then when we stood up to him, Icahn decided to close our workplace and kick 3,000 people to the curb,” said Charles Baker, a Taj Mahal cook since the day it opened in 1990. “I’m here because I want Congress to pass the Brokaw Act, to stop this from happening to other families.”
The Brokaw Act was named after a small town in Wisconsin that went bankrupt after its primary employer succumbed to pressure from an activist hedge fund and closed most of its paper mills. The bill is designed to curb the ability of self-appointed activists, like Carl Icahn, to secretly amass shares and solicit votes for corporate restructurings that provide windfalls for the activists but often have disastrous consequences for workers, communities, and the companies themselves.
In his long career as a corporate raider and then activist, Carl Icahn has left a trail of layoffs, health benefit cuts, and terminated pension plans. And since 2011, companies he has targeted as an activist have committed almost $110 billion to share buybacks.
In Atlantic City, Icahn has had a hand in the closure of three casinos, putting 4,600 people out of work. Now, he is threatening to close a fourth casino, imperiling the jobs of an additional 3,000 employees.
“I used to be able to provide for my family, now I’m facing the unemployment line all because Carl Icahn wanted to make a few more bucks,” said Marc Scittina, a 26-year Food Server at the Taj.
Since July 1, about 1,000 cooks, bartenders, housekeepers, cocktail servers and other service workers have been on strike at the Trump Taj Mahal. Workers are trying to reenter the middle-class after Icahn used the bankruptcy court to strip them of pay and benefits worth more than 1/3 of their total compensation. Many workers at the Trump Taj Mahal, including those with many years on the job, have seen only $.80 per hour 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 on average less than $12/ hour. A recent union survey revealed half now must rely on taxpayer-subsidized health insurance and a third have no health insurance at all.
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.
Local 54, UNITE HERE’s Atlantic City affiliate, represents almost 10,000 casino workers fighting for the future of their families.
Casino workers to Icahn: “Our proposal simply $1.3 million different than yours. We can end this dispute today.”
(Atlantic City, NJ)—At negotiations today, workers at the Trump Taj Mahal made a contract proposal that would resolve the ongoing labor dispute at the Trump Taj Mahal. The union proposal costs only $1.3 million more over the next year than the company’s last proposal that was rejected by the workers on June 30.
“We came up with a proposal that will restore what we have lost while at the same time giving the company time to rebuild its business. This is a win-win proposal in my book,” said Peter Battaglini, a 26-year bellman.
The proposal which would cost $1.3 million more than the last proposal Icahn made to the workers includes:
- The company will begin paying for the same healthcare workers in the rest of the city receive on January 1, 2017;
- The company will immediately restore paid breaks;
- Housekeeper work load will immediately return to the industry standard;
- Subcontracting protections for workers will be immediately restored;
And, Trump Taj Mahal would agree to implement the Tropicana contract beginning on September 1, 2017.
“This labor dispute has been going on for almost two years. The company has saved about $25 million in labor expenses, but lost between $150 and $200 million in revenues. The proposal we put forward today allows all of us to move forward. Now it’s time to see if this company is interested in moving forward or just wants to punish workers and Atlantic City,” said Bob McDevitt, President of UNITE HERE Local 54.
A recent analysis of revenues at the Trump Taj Mahal shows that the company lost out on at least $150 million in revenues over the course of the labor dispute. The report is available at http://bit.ly/tajreport.
One thousand cooks, housekeepers, bellmen, bartenders, cocktail servers, and other service workers from the Trump Taj Mahal have been on strike since July 1.
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 debt-holder 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, retirement security and even paid breaks. 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.
In October 2014, Carl Icahn, the current owner of the Trump Taj Mahal and the Tropicana, did something at the Trump Taj Mahal that no other casino employer in the modern history of Atlantic City had done—he eliminated health insurance and other benefits for around 1,000 cooks, housekeepers, bartenders, cocktail servers, and other service workers.
Icahn’s unprecedented actions provoked a labor dispute between the casino workers and the billionaire.
This report finds that:
- In the first quarter of the labor dispute, hotel occupancy DROPPED by 12 percentage points even as the industry INCREASED occupancy by 5 percentage points. The drop in occupancy continued through the present quarter.
- One way to measure the Trump Taj Mahal’s performance relative to the rest of the industry is by comparing RevPAR (Revenue Per Available Room). In the first half of 2014, the Trump Taj Mahal had RevPAR of almost 60% of the rest of the industry average. In the final three months of 2014, the wheels came off as the Trump Taj Mahal’s RevPAR fell to just 40% of the rest of the industry average, a point from which it has not recovered.
- If Icahn had not picked a fight with the casino workers, and the Trump Taj Mahal’s RevPAR had remained at 60% of the industry average, it would have translated to about an additional $20 million EACH QUARTER in revenue. In total, between October 2014 and the end of June 2016, the Taj Mahal lost out on over $150 million in revenue.
- If instead of fighting his employees, Icahn had reinvested in the casino and, starting in the third quarter of 2015, Taj had been able to INCREASE its RevPAR relative to the rest of the industry to75%, it would have meant an additional $65 million in revenue for the Taj Mahal or a total of $215 million.
- Icahn has chosen to wage a 22-month battle with 1,000 employees that has cost the Taj Mahal an estimated $150 million when the conflict could have been resolved for a few million dollars a year. It is fair to ask whether this is a business decision or if one of the richest men in the world has some axe to grind with employees that make an average of less than $12 per hour.
Contact: Diana Hussein, [email protected], 313-460-3119
Workers have been struggling for 22 months under Icahn’s Reign of Terror at Trump Taj Mahal
(Atlantic City, NJ) — Union members at the Trump Taj Mahal announced the creation of a GoFundMe campaign for the Local 54 Hardship Fund. The funds will be used to provide assistance to workers hit hard by Carl Icahn’s destruction of good jobs at the casino.
“Workers have been struggling under Carl Icahn’s reign of terror at the Trump Taj Mahal for over 22 months. Their benefits have been stripped away, and now, Icahn has said that he will close the place in 2 months. These women and men have been on strike for over a month to defend middle class jobs. People ask all the time how they can support the strikers; this GoFundMe campaign is one way to do that,” said Donna Decaprio, Financial Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 54.
In October 2014, Donald Trump supporter, Carl Icahn, used the bankruptcy process to strip 1,000 workers of their health insurance, pensions, paid lunch breaks and increase the workload for some. On average, the workers total compensation has been cut by more than 30%. As a consequence of Icahn’s cuts, about one-third have no health insurance while another 50% rely on some form taxpayer subsidized insurance. A portion of the 1,000 workers rely on other government programs, like food stamps.
On July 1, 2016, Trump Taj Mahal workers took a stand against Carl Icahn’s policies and went on strike for the same contract that other Atlantic City casino workers have.
Icahn was intimately involved in the decision to strip workers of their benefits. According to documents filed with the bankruptcy court, Icahn and the then-management of the Trump Taj Mahal began working together on a strategy to reject Local 54 contract over a month before the company filed for bankruptcy.
“Shortly after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Carl Icahn took my healthcare away. The Local 54 Hardship Committee helped pay my medical bills. I don’t know what I would have done without their help,” said Patricia Mazur, a 26-year cocktail server at the Trump Taj Mahal.
The Unite Here Local 54 Hardship Fund assists strikers who are experiencing financial difficulties with paying rent, mortgage, utility payments, medical bills and other essential expenses.
Donations will assist strikers who are experiencing financial difficulties. Donations from employers are not permitted and donations are not tax deductible. All donations will be handled in accordance with applicable state and federal laws.
“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.