Nearly two weeks have passed since members of Atlantic City UNITE HERE Local 54 labor union launched their strike against the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.
According to the most recent reports, there doesn’t seem to be any compromise in the near future. The resort has offered a deal that it says will expire on Monday.
Photographs of the strike show people standing in front of the Taj, holding signs expressing their frustrations, including one poster with a drawing of the Grim Reaper bearing the a photo face of CEO Carl Icahn.
The Local 54’s Facebook page features a photo of members holding a banner that reads, “Our city and our families depend on our healthcare.”
The background: Taj only casino to enter into strike
Local 54 designated July 1 as the day its members would strike if five of the city’s eight casinos refused to renegotiate existing employment contracts. Four of the casinos reached a tentative resolution, while the Taj Mahal did not. As a result, the threat of a strike became a reality on July 1.
In some ways, the Taj strike wasn’t a surprise. Workers at the famed casino did not receive health insurance or vacation time despite the casino’s documented jump in gambling revenue during the first quarter of 2016. Numbers for the Taj were poor in May, however.
Conflict over health care dates back to 2014
Nearly every labor dispute includes a war of words between employers and employees; the Taj strike is no different. Over the past 18 months, the two sides have sparred through pointed letters stating each group’s grievances. The root of the issue dates back to the Taj’s 2014 bankruptcy case, in which a judge terminated health care and pension benefits.
Icahn expressed his opinions in a March 2015 letter addressed to Unite-HERE’s Local 54. The billionaire’s main attack focused on the union’s health care plan, which, according to Icahn, netted the organization $140 million.
To further the sting, Icahn noted the Taj filed for bankruptcy twice as the union’s “leadership continues to demand that the Taj makes exorbitant contributions” to the health plan.
Icahn likened union to crime family
Icahn went as far as to compare the union’s tactics to the era when organized crime rings would throw bricks through the windows of shopkeepers who didn’t pay up.
“The only real difference here is that instead of throwing bricks through the Taj Mahal’s windows, your union instead organizes strikes, picketing, boycotts and other attacks to deter customers from patronizing the Taj Mahal,” Icahn wrote.
Union boss writes letter of his own
Earlier this week, Local 54 President Bob McDevitt penned a polemic against the Taj, focusing on lack of health care for hard-working casino employees.
“This company took health care off the table 20 months ago,” McDevitt wrote in his letter. “Can you imagine what it is like to work in this city — to spend your days doing the back-breaking work of cleaning hotel rooms or walking all over the casino floor serving drinks in high heels — without health insurance?”
McDevitt went on to point out that workers at the Tropicana receive adequate health care, yet the only thing the Taj could muster up for its employees was a health plan that offered “essentially half of what every other property agreed to.”
In a statement to the Associated Press, Tropicana Entertainment President Tony Rodia, whose organization runs the Taj Mahal, offered the company’s side of the story in relation to the health care plan about which McDevitt complained.
“The company offered to fund a health insurance plan that was offered by Unite Here but was not quite as rich as the plan at the other AC casinos,” Rodia was quoted as saying. “But it did provide medical insurance for all union members and their families. In addition, the Taj Mahal would have extended health insurance to all non-union members, as well.”
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