FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 24, 2016
Contact: Ben Begleiter, 203-668-6676
Video of all speeches is available at https://unitehere.box.com/v/july242016
(Atlantic City, NJ) –Several members of Congress and a DNC vice-chair joined striking Trump Taj Mahal workers on the picket line in Atlantic City to condemn Donald Trump ally and corporate raider, Carl Icahn.
“I am proud to stand with striking Trump Taj Mahal workers in their struggle against Donald Trump’s would-be Treasury Secretary, Carl Icahn, for healthcare and a fair contract. My office will pursue Brokaw Act legislation in order to prioritize workers, communities and businesses over short term financial gains,” said Rep. Brendan Boyle (PA-13)
Since July 1, about 1,000 cooks, bartenders, housekeepers, cocktail servers and other service workers have been on strike at the Trump Taj Mahal to reenter the middle-class after Icahn used the bankruptcy court to strip 1,000 workers of pay and benefits worth more than 1/3 of their total compensation. Many workers at the Trump Taj Mahal, including those with 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 an average of less than $12/ hour.
“The American people are sick and tired of an economy that is too often rigged against them. When a hedge fund can carve up a business, putting Americans out of work and the company’s future at risk for their own short-term gain—then it’s time for a change. The Brokaw Act is a necessary response to these abuses against American workers, one that will bring much-needed transparency and oversight to activist hedge funds,” said Congressman Donald Payne Jr. (NJ-10)
Congressman Payne continued, “Carl Icahn, a good friend and adviser to Donald Trump, opposes the Brokaw Act—and it’s no surprise why. He is known for engaging in the abusive practices that this legislation would prevent. This man shouldn’t be in charge of a piggy bank, let alone our economic and financial systems.”
The Brokaw Act (SB 2720), which was introduced by Senator Baldwin (D-WI), would shorten the time period hedge funds have to make regulatory disclosures when they target a company, and prevent hedge funds from secretly banding together in “wolf-packs” to quietly accumulate shares in a company.
Both Donald Trump and Carl Icahn have taken millions from the Trump Taj Mahal for themselves while workers have been left holding the bag. 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 their retirement security and even basic benefits like healthcare. Overall, he cut total average worker compensation by 35%.
“We do what we have to to make sure our kids have a future. And then you have these businesses, these corporations, all they want to do is come in and take as much as they can and leave. They’re not building a legacy, you’re building a legacy. You’re a building a legacy of America for your children,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-7).
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.
“I’ve worked down here in Atlantic City for 30 years in my career as an electrician. No one has ever come to try to do what Icahn’s doing,” said Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-1).
“I am proud to stand with you as you seek to restore your basic rights, such as health care and pension benefits, that all workers should receive. For too long, America’s invaluable labor force has dealt with attacks on fair wages, basic benefits, and earned pensions. Unfortunately, we are witnessing another example of one of these attacks here at Trump Taj Mahal,” said Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-8).
“You get these hedge funds, and these unscrupulous investors who come in here buy the casinos in bankruptcy and all they want to do is milk it. They don’t care about long term investment in your lives, in your livelihoods, they don’t care about Atlantic City; they don’t care about the State of New Jersey. So you aren’t just helping yourselves, you’re helping all of us,” said Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-6).
“We need to be creating, solidifying, and protecting jobs here in the State of New Jersey… We stand with you and we’ll work in Congress to make sure [that] these people who take their money and run with it and leave us high and dry have to answer to us,” Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12).
The strike in Atlantic City comes on the heels of agreements with four casinos.