Atlantic City, NJ – This week, as most of the media’s attention was focused on the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia, there was a lot of talk about how bad Donald Trump would be for the people of the United States. Among all that talk though there was no mention of the damage he has already done to a whole region of people who depended on some of his businesses for their livelihood.
Donald Trump’s failed casino ventures in Atlantic City have been mentioned a few times by his opponents on the campaign trail, but only as political points in the tit for tat campaign style we are all so used to. What was never discussed was the effect his failures are still having on the former east coast gambling mecca, now a city that has fallen on hard times as new casinos have popped up across the country.
Although Donald Trump no longer owns his casinos in Atlantic City, the Taj Mahal still has the Trump name licensed to it. Donald Trump did abandon his majority share of Trump Entertainment Resorts during the company’s first bankruptcy in 2004. After the second bankruptcy in 2009, Trump made the deal to find a buyer for his failing casino wing and ended up selling it to Carl Icahn and his company, Icahn Enterprises.
Icahn walked his new properties into the next bankruptcy in 2014. During this bankruptcy he closed the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino but decided to salvage the Trump Taj Mahal.
After bringing the Taj Mahal out of near collapse, Icahn used the financial troubles to justify making cuts to more and more of the benefits the casino’s bartenders, housekeepers, cocktail servers and other service employees used to enjoy.
Around 1,000 employees of the Taj Mahal walked out and went on strike on July 1st of this year after Carl Icahn refused to renew a labor contract despite all the other casinos in the city having one (including another Icahn casino; the Tropicana.)
I talked to Charles Baker of the casino workers union: UNITE HERE Local 54 during a break from covering the convention and asked them what it would take for them to end their strike. The employees were offered a poor deal multiple times. The health care being offered has been gutted from their original plans, the savings and retirement plans have been destroyed and the workers of the casino have only had average raises of 80 cents over the last 12 years despite the cost of living in Atlantic City rising by around 25%.
Icahn insists that the union is damaging the casino and says he would close down the entire operation before he would restore the benefits that Local 54 is seeking.
The union is encouraging members to vote Democrat in this election and has spoken with the Democratic Labor Council making it clear that, although Trump may not own this casino anymore, the problems did begin under his watch.
The union feels they can’t trust the billionaires to fairly run a casino, whether it’s Trump or Icahn, so why would they trust them to run a country and attempt to drive more people into poverty like they’ve done to the casino employees.
Charles Baker probably summed it up best in the press release for UNITE HERE when he said “It isn’t right that a billionaire can come in and strip of us what we’ve worked for, sacrificed for. We struck because we will not let billionaires like Carl Icahn or his friend Donald Trump dictate to us.” Although readers here may not agree that the Democrats re the best choice we all know it is important for the working and middle class to stick together to fend off the attacks of the super wealthy.
Copyright © 2016 The Fifth Column.
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