For immediate release
November 19, 2014
Atlantic City, NJ – Today, more than 1500 casino workers and allies are holding a march on the Atlantic City boardwalk, protesting billionaire Carl Icahn. Icahn has threatened to shut down the Trump Taj Mahal on Dec. 12, unless taxpayers fork over $175 million in tax breaks. If the casino closes, more than 3000 people could lose their jobs, adding to the 9000 layoffs in the city’s casino industry this year.
Amid casino closings and mass layoffs in Atlantic City, billionaire Carl Icahn has done well while others have suffered. Icahn and his funds are the sole debt holders on the Trump Taj Mahal. He has already pulled $350 million in principal, interest and other payments out of Trump Entertainment, and has used the bankruptcy process to gain control of casinos at steep discounts, while lending at 12% interest rates. Now, Icahn has driven Trump into bankruptcy, costing casino workers their health insurance and retirement plans. Workers say the current crisis at the Taj Mahal is one that Icahn has created and profited from.
“It’s time that Icahn stop playing games with our lives,” says Valerie McMorris, a cocktail waitress who has worked at the Trump Taj Mahal since the day it opened. “I need this job for my family to survive. This billionaire has taken enough from the people of Atlantic City, and it’s in his power to make it right.”
For decades, Icahn has built his fortune, while using the bankruptcy process to hurt workers and destroy companies. His history of mining companies in distress and stripping workers of their benefits includes corporations like PSC Metals, Viskase, Westpoint Stevens, Turner & Newell and most famously TWA, when he ended two pension plans for 36,500 workers.
In the last decade, workers have sacrificed wage increases to maintain good health insurance. Despite that sacrifice, Icahn has taken away 1,100 casino workers’ health insurance and retirement plans. The cuts mean an overall 35% reduction in compensation for workers who average less than $12.50 per hour in wages.
This week’s march, organized by UNITE HERE Local 54, is the latest stand taken by area workers and elected officials to stop Icahn from further profiting from Atlantic City’s distress.
UNITE HERE Local 54 is the largest casino workers union in Atlantic City. With a 100-year history, Local 54 represents about 10,000 workers in 8 different city casinos. We are a union of housekeepers, bartenders, servers, cooks, and dishwashers. Local 54’s parent union, UNITE HERE, represents approximately 270,000 hotel, food service, and gaming workers throughout the United States and Canada.