Atlantic City Taj Mahal could be headed for Strike

Local 54, the largest workers union in Atlantic City, has given permission to disgruntled workers at the Taj Mahal casino to go on strike.

Eighty percent of Local 54’s roughly 1,000 members approved the strike if they feel it’s necessary to get what they want from the ailing casino.

At the heart of the dispute here is Trump Entertainment Resorts’ decision to slash healthcare and pension plans for the casino resort’s workers. Billionaire Carl Icahn, who’s taken control of the Taj Mahal as it heads out of bankruptcy court, insists that cutting employees’ pensions was a necessary move to remain operational. Icahn has even vowed to cut off funding to the casino if the benefits are brought back through the legal system.

Nevertheless, Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54, has been fighting to get benefits restored to Taj Mahal employees, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet without health insurance. McDevitt told NJ.com the following regarding this battle to restore workers’ healthcare and pension plans:

“Carl Icahn may have thought that workers in Atlantic City would turn a blind eye to his abusing the employees at the Taj. He may have thought that Taj employees would have just been happy to have a job, but this vote shows that the men and women at the Taj are ready to fight to defend the kind of jobs that were promised when gaming was legalized- jobs with good pay and good benefits, in a workplace where everyone is treated fairly.”

If reports from the National Labor Relations Board are of any indication, working conditions at the Taj Mahal casino have gotten considerably worse in recent years. 20 complaints have been filed against the resort for threatening workers, changing schedules, changing workloads and restricting union access.

Assuming Local 54 union workers go on strike, this wouldn’t be the first time in Atlantic City’s history. About 10,000 employees from the same union went on strike in Atlantic City for 34 days in 2004. Times were much better back then, though, when the town was still one of the world’s premier casino destinations.

Atlantic City is still popular, but the resort town has been hit particularly hard over the past few years, even seeing four casinos close in 2014. If workers are to receive their benefits, and Icahn stays true to his word of shutting the place down, then the Taj Mahal could potentially be a fifth casualty in the last two years.