Trump Taj Mahal taking Heat over Workers without Health Insurance

Trump Taj Mahal taking Heat over Workers without Health Insurance

The bitter battle between the Trump Taj Mahal and union workers continues, as hundreds of employees are still said to be without health insurance.

Based on a survey by Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, 44 percent of the casino workers have been unable to find affordable health insurance, while 23 percent are getting government aid to pay for insurance.

This matter stems back to an October ruling, where a bankruptcy judge let Trump Entertainment Resorts cancel health insurance and pension plans for workers. Trump Entertainment claimed that this was a necessary move in order to keep from closing, like four other Atlantic City casinos did last year. However, even with the Affordable Care Act stipend that Trump Taj Mahal has given employees, many are finding that it’s not enough to get insurance with.

Philly.com reported on some of the workers who’ve went without coverage, including Paul Smith, a long-time cook at the casino who needs surgeries on his back, shoulder and neck; however, he can’t even pay his rent right now and had to move in with a friend.

“I have to pay cash for my doctor visits, which are expensive: $155 for a visit,” said Smith. “I have to pick and choose which medicines I buy: Do I take my heart medication or my pain pills that get me through the day so I can work? Every day it gets worse.”

Smith also said that he fears becoming addicted to pain medications because of how long he’s been taking them to lessen the pain of his injuries. “Eighteen months ago, I became a grandfather,” the cook added. “If I don’t get surgery soon, I’ll be crippled. I won’t be able to hold my granddaughter or even lift her up. That’s my greatest fear.”

It’s likely that there are other Trump Taj Mahal workers facing tough situations from a health/financial standpoint. And the union’s survey found that 70 percent of the respondents reported feeling depressed at various points of the week. However, billionaire Carl Icahn, who’s trying to buy the Taj Mahal from bankruptcy court, feels that Locak 54 is part of the problem.

“While I no doubt believe that morale among employees at the Taj is low, this union has already caused three other hotels in Atlantic City to close and now they are doing everything they can to destroy the Taj,” said Icahn. “If they succeed, won’t their members be even more depressed without jobs? What does their unscientific, self-serving, propaganda-driven survey say about that?”

Icahn further adds that if the union is successful in reinstating healthcare and pension plans, he will cut off the funding that’s keeping Trump Taj Mahal open until he acquires it. So this health insurance issue is definitely a tough situation that doesn’t look to be resolved any time soon.