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July 6 — Hillary Clinton joined striking workers outside the Trump Taj Mahal while touring Atlantic City, N.J., and criticized the business acumen of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, shook hands July 6 with some of the UNITE HERE Local 54-represented workers who have been on a work stoppage since July 1. The picketers are protesting failed contract talks centered around restoring health-care and pension benefits.
Local 54 represents about 1,000 workers, or roughly a third of the workforce at the casino-resort that exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February.
Clinton's appearance with strikers at the Taj came shortly after she spoke about a mile away before the backdrop of the shuttered Trump Plaza and Hotel, which closed in September 2014.
Clinton used her speech at the Trump Plaza to criticize her opponent, who opened several failed properties in Atlantic City. He no longer owns the Taj.
Trump issued a written statement responding to Clinton's criticism. “I created thousands of jobs and made a lot of money in Atlantic City, which was what, as a businessman, I am supposed to do for my company and my family—and as President I will make America rich again, and Make America Great Again,” he said.
Clinton's speech at Trump Plaza also mentioned the ongoing strike at the Taj.
“Just down the boardwalk is the Trump Taj Mahal. Donald once called it the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World.’ It filed for bankruptcy in 2009,” she said. “Things got so bad, the new management canceled workers’ health insurance and pensions. Now those workers are on strike and we should all support them in getting a fair deal.”
Trump opened the Taj in 1990. Billionaire Carl Icahn, doing business under Icahn Enterprises, assumed ownership of the casino following its bankruptcy exit in February.
Icahn's ownership has been criticized by Local 54, which has blamed him for unnecessarily demanding a bankruptcy exit plan that sheds employee health insurance and pension benefits.
Icahn has defended his position, saying that concessions are needed to make the Taj financially stable. The Local 54-represented employees have been working without a contract since September 2014.
Local 54 and Taj management were unable to reach a new contract by the July 1 strike deadline set by the union. The Taj was the only one of five Atlantic City casinos unable to reach a new labor contract and avoid a strike by the union.
Local 54 announced June 30 that it reached tentative deals with owners of Caesars, Harrah's, Bally's and Tropicana, canceling plans to strike at those properties.
Taj officials have said they have spent millions keeping the casino-resort open and proposed a labor contract that would have restored employee health-care benefits. There were no new planned negotiations as of July 6.
This marks at least the second time Clinton has joined union picketers in recent months. In April, she joined Verizon Communications workers on strike in New York City. About 39,000 East Coast workers, represented by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, were on strike for 45 days before ratifying a new labor contract June 17.
The 270,000-member UNITE HERE union has not endorsed a presidential candidate.
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Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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