Striking Casino Workers Tell Congress: Pass Brokaw Act to protect workers from the likes of Carl Icahn

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 IcahnDC1

(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.

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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.

 

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VIDEO: The Trump Taj Mahal is closing: did it make Atlantic City great? (via The Guardian)

When it opened in 1990, Donald Trump hailed it as the eighth wonder of the world. But in October, the Trump Taj Mahal will close, leaving thousands out of work. The Republican presidential nominee says he wants to make America great again, but did he make Atlantic City great?


Full Article from The Guardian: Trump and Atlantic City: the lessons behind the demise of his casino empire

PRESS RELEASE: Casino workers to Icahn: “Our proposal simply $1.3 million different than yours. We can end this dispute today.”

Contact:
Diana Hussein, [email protected], 313-460-3119
Ben Begleiter, [email protected], 203-668-6676


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:

  1. The company will begin paying for the same healthcare workers in the rest of the city receive on January 1, 2017;
  2. The company will immediately restore paid breaks;
  3. Housekeeper work load will immediately return to the industry standard;
  4. 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.

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Press Release: New Way for Public to Support Striking Trump Taj Mahal Workers

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

GoFundMe Page

(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.

Link to GoFundMe Campaign

Trump Taj Mahal Striker Valerie McMorris On July Gaming Revenue Report

“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. 

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New Statement from UNITE HERE Local 54 President Bob McDevitt on Trump Taj Mahal (8-4-2016)

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 UNITE HERE Local 54 President Bob McDevitt on Trump Taj Mahal




For Immediate Release
Contact: Diana Hussein 313-460-3119 [email protected];
Morgan Rubin, 646-517-1813, [email protected]

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.

 

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