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May 4, 2017

Union Workers At Trump Taj Mahal Could Find New Work At Hard Rock Atlantic City

J.R. Duren May 4, 2017
Union Hard Rock AC
More than eight months ago, the union UNITE HERE! Local 54 announced workers at the Trump Taj Mahal would strike over a lack of benefits.

The move caused the Taj to close, but now that Hard Rock International has announced it will reopen as a Hard Rock hotel, there’s talk that the resort will employ union workers once more.

Union President Bob McDevitt told the Press of Atlantic City he’s in talks with the Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen and investor Joe Jingoli.

Allen told the Press of AC the hotel group is “looking forward to working with Local 54.”

Local 54’s long journey to the Hard Rock

In the summer of 2016, Local 54 announced its workers would go on strike if five of the city’s eight casinos didn’t agree to the union’s demands for, among other things, adequate health care coverage for its members.

Four of the casinos were able to reach an agreement, but Taj owner Carl Icahn was the only holdout.

Icahn and Local 54 had been bitter enemies for the most part since the Taj declared bankruptcy in 2014. As part of the property’s restructuring, health care and other benefits were either reduced or eliminated.

While workers voiced their opposition to the health care crisis, Icahn pointed out in a 2015 open letter that the union’s health care plan had earned them $140 million.

He went on to compare the union’s strike tactics to old-time, brick-throwing thugs.

Union 54 went on strike

That bad blood fueled stubbornness on both sides, as the Taj was the only casino that chose not to reach an agreement with the union to avoid a long-term strike.

Local 54’s strike gained national attention and became a huge distraction, cutting into the Taj’s business.

If the union’s goal was to make Icahn pay for his belligerence, it worked. On Oct. 10, 2016, the Taj closed its doors for what would be the final chapter in its up-and-down lifespan.

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Union leaders saw Hard Rock acquisition as a positive step

As it became apparent Icahn was looking for a buyer, McDevitt released a statement indicating he felt new ownership would give his workers a new chance at “quality jobs, not hollowed out ones that don’t allow families to live middle class lives,” the union posted on its Facebook page.

McDevitt went on to say jobs were always a part of Atlantic City’s vision for casino gaming and that the old Taj property is a reminder of the union’s commitment.

“Our members sacrificed much at this property, but we never wavered in our core belief that workers deserve a good quality job, not simply any job,” McDevitt said.

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