For Immediate Release
Contact: Ben Begleiter, UNITE HERE Local 54, [email protected], 203-668-6676
Trump Taj Mahal Strikers Detail Effects of Trump and Icahn-omics to DNC Labor Caucus
(Philadelphia, PA, NJ) – Over a dozen striking workers from the Trump Taj Mahal traveled to Philadelphia to address the DNC’s labor caucus to condemn Donald Trump ally and corporate raider, Carl Icahn.
“I’m here today, because Carl Icahn, the man Donald Trump thinks should be running the US economy has taken middle class jobs at the Trump Taj Mahal and turned them into poverty jobs. This isn’t right. It isn’t right that a billionaire can come in and strip of us what we’ve worked for, sacrificed for. We struck because we will not let billionaires like Carl Icahn or his friend Donald Trump dictate to us,” said Charles Baker, a 26-year cook at the Trump Taj Mahal.
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.
“When you have an employer, like Trump, running for President – there is no truer test of his character than how he treats his own employees. In Atlantic City, when his businesses went bankrupt, workers were left holding the bag—an empty bag. Trump left town with a suitcase full of money,” said Maria Elena Durazo, Vice Chair of Democratic National Committee and Chair of the DNC Labor Council. Durazo also serves as General Vice President of UNITE HERE, the union of hospitality and food service workers in the U.S. and Canada.
Durazo continued, “Today striking Trump Taj Mahal workers are taking a stand to save middle-class jobs. The Democratic Party stands with workers in Atlantic City and all workers striving for a better life for themselves and their families. We cannot allow Trump do to America what he’s done to Atlantic City.”
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%.
“These brave workers have been on strike since July 1 after a 20 month struggle with Donald Trump’s friend and allly and the guy he thinks should be in charge of the economy. We’ll do everything we can to support their struggle,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO.
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.
The strike in Atlantic City comes on the heels of agreements with four casinos.