Trump Taj Mahal workers take strike to owner’s doorstep

Casino workers at Trump Taj Mahal  traveled from their home in Atlantic City, New Jersey to New York City to protest the anti-worker policies of the casino’s owner.

One thousand housekeepers, cooks, servers, and bellmen at Trump Taj Mahal went out on strike on July 1 when their union, UNITE HERE Local 54, and the casino’s owner could not reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.

On July 13, they rallied at the Manhattan office of Carl Ichan, the principle owner of Trump Taj Mahal.

At the rally, speakers criticized Ichan’s business practices that prioritize short-term profits at the expense of sustainable, long-term growth.

Those practices, according to the union, have cost the workers their health care benefit, driven down their wages, and left many on public assistance.

Ichan became owner of the Taj Mahal in 2016 when the casino emerged from bankruptcy for the fourth time, but between 2010 and 2014, Ichan was Trump Taj Mahal’s main creditor. During that time he extracted $350 million in profit from the casino.

When Trump Taj Mahal went into bankruptcy in 2014, Ichan used the bankruptcy court to take away the casino workers’ health care benefit.

Under Ichan’s stewardship, wages, which once supported a decent middle-class life for the workers, were reduced by more than one-third.

“I’ve worked hard for twenty-six years cleaning dozens of guest rooms per week at this casino,” said Patsy Heath, a housekeeper at the Trump Taj Mahal. “Now I’ve injured myself on the job, my bills are piling up, and Carl Icahn has taken away my health care so that he can pad his own profits. Icahn has been a disaster for working people at the Trump Taj Mahal, and Donald Trump is crazy if he wants to put him in charge of our country’s economy.”

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for President, has indicated that if elected, Ichan could be his choice for Secretary of the Treasury.

After the rally at Ichan’s offices, the striking workers marched to Trump Tower to protest the role that Trump has played in the decline of the once prosperous working class of Atlantic City.

Trump owned Trump Taj Mahal when it opened in 1990 and maintained control of the casino and the company that owned it until 2009. During that time, the company that owned Trump Taj Mahal declared bankruptcy three times.

In 2009, he was forced out of ownership by the company’s creditors.

Between 2009 and 2016, when Trump Taj Mahal emerged from bankruptcy for the fourth time, Trump maintained a 10 percent stake in the company.

When Ichan Enterprises assumed full control of the casino in 2016 after it emerged from bankruptcy, Trump’s relationship with the casino ended.

As the striking Trump Taj Mahal workers headed to New York to begin their rally and march, UNITE HERE Local 54 announced that other Atlantic City casino workers represented by the union had ratified new collective bargaining agreements with the owners of Harrah’s, Bally’s and Caesars.

Details of the newly ratified collective bargaining agreements have not been made public.

The striking casino workers have started to get support from other unions.

On July 13, the Communications Workers of America, which won a six-week strike against Verizon, sent a message to members urging them to support  Trump Taj Mahal strikers.

“Trump Taj Mahal workers have had it hard in recent years. First Donald Trump bankrupted the property while extracting millions in earnings. Then billionaire Carl Icahn took it over, using the bankruptcy process to strip workers of their healthcare and even paid breaks,” states the CWA message to its members.

The message asked members to show their solidarity by adding their name to a union letter to Carl Ichan.

“The cooks, housekeepers, bellmen and servers from the Trump Taj Mahal are taking a stand for all of us against corporate bullies like Donald Trump and Carl Icahn who abuse the bankruptcy process to make themselves richer while making it harder for everyone else to makes ends meet,” said the message.

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