Trump Taj Mahal Says No Dice to Union Bid to Stay Open

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By Tyrone Richardson

Aug. 30 — Management of Trump Taj Mahal rejected UNITE HERE Local 54’s labor contract offer intended to stave off the planned October closing of the Atlantic City, N.J., casino-resort, the company announced Aug. 29.

Both sides met Aug. 29 for “an effects bargaining meeting,” which the Taj management “believed was to discuss closing procedure,” Taj officials said in a written statement. Taj management Aug. 3 announced plans to cease operations and lay off 2,848 workers Oct. 10. The planned closing is the result of what was then described as a loss of millions of dollars each month, in addition to a months-long work stoppage by about 1,000 Local 54-represented cooks, housekeepers, bellmen and servers.

The Aug. 29 meeting did not change the intention to close the Taj, manager Tony Rodio said. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump opened the Taj in 1990. It is currently owned by billionaire Carl Icahn, who took ownership as part of the casino’s exit from bankruptcy protection in February.

“Bob McDevitt and the Taj bargaining committee have no one to blame but themselves for this sad outcome,” Rodio said in a statement, referring to the president of Local 54. “If McDevitt cared even one iota about the future of the employees he would have allowed them to vote on the proposal we offered five weeks ago based on his recommendations, which we believe could have saved the Taj.”

Rodio was referring to an 18-month contract proposal that Taj officials touted as a deal that would have restored some benefits lost during the bankruptcy, including employee health-care coverage. McDevitt has been seeking a stronger package of health insurance and restored pension benefits.

Proposed Deal Includes Health Insurance

During the Aug. 29 meeting, Local 54 leaders submitted a contract proposal that would restore employer-paid health-care insurance and other benefits. The proposed deal would cost about $1.3 million more than the rejected 18-month deal.

“The company has saved about $25 million in labor expenses, but lost between $150 and $200 million in revenues. The proposal we put forward today allows all of us to move forward,” McDevitt said in the written statement. “Now it’s time to see if this company is interested in moving forward or just wants to punish workers and Atlantic City.”

The closure of the Taj follows a series of casino-resorts shuttered in Atlantic City in 2014, including the Revel Casino Hotel, Trump Plaza, Showboat and the Atlantic Club.

The losses, in part, have been tied to mounting competition from gambling venues opened in neighboring states, such as Pennsylvania and Maryland.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tyrone Richardson in Washington at trichardson@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at smcgolrick@bna.com

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