UNITE HERE announced that it has created a GoFundMe website where people can show their solidarity with striking UNITE HERE Local 54 members who work at the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
About 1,000 cooks, housekeepers, servers, bartenders, and other service workers at Trump Taj Mahal on July 1 went on strike for a new contract that includes pay and benefits similar to those agreed to at four other casinos in Atlantic City.
Most striking workers make about $12 or less an hour.
Trump Taj Mahal is owned by Carl Icahn, a billionaire whose net worth is estimated by Forbes to be $16.5 billion.
When the casino was in bankruptcy for the fourth time, Ichan in 2014 convinced a bankruptcy judge to strip the workers of their health insurance and pension plans.
When the casino emerged from bankruptcy, the union sought to recover the health insurance plan.
Local 54 had successfully negotiated contracts with four other Atlantic City casinos, and the union wanted the new contract with Trump Taj Mahal to include a health care plan similar to the ones enjoyed by other Local 54 members.
When Icahn refused, the workers went on strike.
A month after the strike began, Icahn announced that he would close Trump Taj Mahal on October 10.
Despite the devastating news, members of Local 54 have continued with their strike and are asking people to show their solidarity by contributing to the union’s Hardship Fund through the GoFundMe website.
“Workers have been struggling under Carl Icahn’s reign of terror at the Trump Taj Mahal for over 22 months. Their benefits have been stripped away, and now, Icahn has said that he will close the place in two months,” said Donna Decaprio, financial secretary-treasurer of Local 54. “These women and men have been on strike for over a month to defend middle class jobs. People ask all the time how they can support the strikers; this GoFundMe campaign is one way to do that.”
Icahn said that he can’t afford to pay for the health care plan that Trump Taj Mahal want restored.
The Guardian reports that it would cost Icahn about $4 million a year to provide the same level of health care benefits to Trump Taj Mahal workers that other Atlantic City casino workers receive.
That’s about the same amount of money that Icahn spent buying back shares from investors in another Atlantic City casino that he owns, the Tropicana, which, by the way, agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement with Local 54 just days before Trump Taj Mahal workers went on strike.
“For the workers, it is the difference between a $12-an-hour job with a $3 benefits package that leaves them on the hook for their family’s healthcare and their own hospital visits, or a $6.65 benefits package that they say would give them a decent, middle-class life. Currently, workers say, the Taj is paying $20 an hour to scabs to staff the hotel, restaurants and gaming services,” reports the Guardian.
Despite the news of the closing, Trump Taj Mahal workers remain on the picket line and the strike continues.
The GoFundMe campaign will help Local 54 replenish its Hardship Fund that helps union members facing financial difficulties.
“Shortly after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Carl Icahn took my healthcare away. The Local 54 Hardship Committee helped pay my medical bills. I don’t know what I would have done without their help,” said Patricia Mazur, a 26-year cocktail server at the Trump Taj Mahal.