This past month, 944 employees of the former Trump Taj Mahal received a check in the mail for $850.76.
Consider that amount a modest “I’m sorry” from Carl Icahn, the owner of the Taj at the time of its demise. Icahn’s miserly ways led to a July 2016 strike that ultimately resulted in the casino’s death.
According to the Press of Atlantic City, the checks went to 494 non-union former employees and 450 members of UNITE HERE Local 54.
The checks were the result of a long-standing legal feud in which the casino contended that Icahn violated labor laws back in 2014 when the casino went into bankruptcy.
Issues started in 2014
Back in 2014, the union’s Taj employees went on strike. Months later, the casino declared bankruptcy.
During the bankruptcy proceedings, employees lost many of their benefits — including sick pay and vacation pay.
Over time, it became apparent to union leaders that Icahn had no intention of resurrecting some of the benefits union employees lost.
The feud continued to be a public one, with Icahn posting his opinions to his personal website, www.carlicahn.com.
In a letter dated June 9, 2015, Icahn slammed the union, portraying it as a ravenous band of greed-mongers putting individual employee’s jobs at risk for their monetary gain.
Here is an excerpt from that letter:
“UNITEHERE is a driving force behind a dysfunctional system that enriches those in power to the detriment of its own members. In Atlantic City, they have contributed to the precipitous downfall and closure of one-third of the casinos, which has resulted in a devastating loss of employment for so many of your brethren in that city. “
Strike in 2016 led to Taj’s demise
The vitriol between Icahn and UNITE HERE Local 54 continued through 2015 and into 2016. In June of that year, the union threatened to strike at five casinos.
On July 1, the union went on strike. By October the casino closed due to the money being lost as a result of the labor stoppage.
On Oct. 10, the union posted a triumphant message accompanied with photos from the strike. Here is an excerpt from that message:
“For 102 days we held the line against Wall Street’s attack on the American worker. We held the line for our families, who deserve good quality jobs and healthcare. We held the line against a billionaire taking from us to line his own pockets.
We held the line for our community, because we are proud of the middle class standard we have fought for in Atlantic City. We are 18 different languages and nationalities united in one voice: Enough is Enough. We stand up for good jobs, with dignity and respect. And we will not let a Wall Street billionaire take that away.
We held the line, and we will be back.”
Hard Rock hires hundreds of union workers
Local 54 made good on that closing promise.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City bought the former Taj and hired 385 Local 54 workers, representing about 85 percent of the Local 54 employees that worked at the Taj.
Bob McDevitt, Local 54’s president, told the Press of Atlantic City that the checks received from the settlement were a victory for him and his fellow members.
“I think it’s very satisfying that on the same day that we were able to reopen Hard Rock we were able to deliver these checks,” he was quoted as saying. “It helps to ease some of the pain and suffering our members went through.”