New York

Taj Mahal Strike Continues, Health Care Offer Withdrawn

An Atlantic City casino owned by billionaire Carl Icahn withdrew an offer to restore health insurance for its striking workers Monday after the union refused to put the measure up for a vote 18 days into a walkout.

The Trump Taj Mahal had given striking Local 54 of Unite-HERE workers until Monday to vote on its offer, but union president Bob McDevitt said that the offer was "essentially half" of what workers at other casinos received.

"Regrettably, the union failed to put the offer to a vote by its Taj Mahal membership and therefore as we indicated last week, the offer has been permanently withdrawn," said Tony Rodio, head of Tropicana Entertainment Inc.

About 1,000 union members from the Taj Mahal's food and beverage and housekeeping departments went on strike on July 1 after the union was unable to agree on a contract that restored health care and pension benefits that a bankruptcy judge terminated in 2014. Dealers and security are not included in the walkout, and the Trump Taj Mahal remains open.

"Can you imagine what it is like to work in this city — to spend your days doing the backbreaking work of cleaning hotel rooms or walking all over the casino floor serving drinks in high heels — without health insurance?" McDevitt said, adding that a third of the workers have no insurance and half rely on taxpayer subsidized health care. "Part of the reason that the property continues to do poorly is because of how it has treated its workforce."

Rodio told The Associated Press last week that the Taj Mahal offered to fund the union's health plan, just not to the level that other casinos do. He said it would have provided medical insurance for all union members and their families.

After union workers protested last week outside of Icahn's office in New York, Rodio referred to the Taj Mahal as "a money pit" that is losing millions of dollars, and urged individual workers to consider the $86 million Icahn has invested to keep the casino open since it declared bankruptcy in September 2014.

Local 54 reached deals with four other casinos last month, including the Tropicana, which is also owned by Icahn.

The union said that the round-the-clock protests at the Taj will be paused Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. so that workers can go to a memorial service for a fellow striker who died Thursday at age 62.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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