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Latest News - October 2014

October 18, 2014
Atlantic City casino workers fear future after judge voids contract
By: Associated Press

An hour after a judge ruled to throw out the Trump Taj Mahal's union contract Friday without a guarantee that the company would stay open, the casino's workers gathered in front of the resort on the Atlantic City boardwalk.

Some joked and others were hopeful that the situation would pass, but most were angry.

"You want to cut my pay, you want to cut my salary, you want to cut benefits of all the workers," said Charles Baker, 55, a cook at the casino. "We're going to fight for our rights, we're going to fight for what we deserve. We work hard here in this city and for some billionaire to come down here and come by and just sweep it all away, it's just unacceptable."

Unlike its neighbors on the north side of the boardwalk — Revel Casino Hotel and Showboat — Trump Entertainment Resorts isn't immediately set to close the casino, but Friday's ruling puts its 3,000 workers in flux as they wonder what's next.

Trump Entertainment had previously said that the Taj Mahal would close in November if Friday's ruling didn't go in its favor. Though Friday's decision signaled progress for keeping the company open, its continued operation is not guaranteed.

The company and billionaire investor Carl Icahn had said it needs big union concessions and massive tax breaks from Atlantic City and New Jersey — both of which already have rejected the demand. It originally sought to have the city reduce its property tax assessment by 80 percent, to have the state contribute $25 million in tax credits, and for union workers to give up their pension and health insurance.

It would provide $2,000 stipends for workers to find their own coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

After getting a negative reaction from Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian and state Senate President Steve Sweeney, the company revised its financial request from the state. It is now seeking $175 million in relief through a so-called PILOT program — payments in lieu of taxes — and the receipt of two types of state economic grants not usually available to casinos: the Economic Redevelopment Grant and the Urban Revitalization Grant. State legislators would have to vote on letting the casinos into the program.

Workers feared that the tactic used by the Taj Mahal's management would be used at other casinos in the city. Union members announced plans to picket the Taj Mahal for three hours next Friday.

"This is only the beginning," said Valerie McMorris, 45, who has a 15-year-old son on her benefits and a husband who just lost his job at Revel. "This is the first step in decimating middle-class jobs."

Others said they worried that the uncertainty workers are feeling would negatively impact the local economy in Atlantic County.

Patrons at the Taj Mahal shook their heads in disapproval upon hearing about Friday's ruling. Joan Starke said that she's already considering taking her business to another casino in town.

"If they treat the people like this, I'll think about going to Borgata," said Starke, 72. "I don't think this is fair."

 

 


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