For immediate release
July 17, 2015
Local 54 Members at Taj Mahal Vote to Authorize Strike
(Atlantic City, NJ) In the first strike authorization vote in Atlantic City in more than a decade, Local 54 members at the Taj Mahal voted by 80% to allow the Taj negotiating committee to call a strike.
“Carl Icahn may have thought that workers in Atlantic City would turn a blind eye to his abusing the employees at the Taj. He may have thought that Taj employees would have just been happy to have a job, but this vote shows that the men and women at the Taj are ready to fight to defend the kind of jobs that were promised when gaming was legalized- jobs with good pay and good benefits, in a workplace where everyone is treated fairly,” said Bob McDevitt, President of UNITE HERE Local 54.
“For the past year, Carl Icahn and his management team have been disrupting our lives. They changed our schedules, increased our workloads, threatened us when we objected, took away our health insurance and paid breaks. I’m tired of dealing with this unfair behavior, that’s why I voted to strike,” said Patesy Heath, a housekeeper at the Taj Mahal for 25 years.
“We’ve done everything we could to make Carl Icahn understand that we weren’t going to stand for indignities that we’ve had to deal with. We have marched, picketed, petitioned and delivered letters, and even met with Mr. Icahn in New York, all in an effort to make it clear that we won’t stand for this. I don’t want to strike, but I walked the picket lines the last time there was a strike at the Taj, in 1999, and I’m prepared to do it again,” said Al Wallinger, a 25-year Bellman at the Taj Mahal.
“I used to have a good job at the Taj Mahal. It had stability and I liked coming to work. Since Carl Icahn came, my work life has become a nightmare. He repeatedly threatened to close the casino and put 2,500 of us out of work, at work they changed our schedules, threatened us and cut our benefits. I’m willing to strike to go back to having a job with benefits and without being afraid of retaliation,” said Patty Pinchock, a day one Cocktail Server at the Taj Mahal.
“After speaking with workers about the conditions inside the Taj Mahal, I’m concerned that management will engage in additional retaliatory activities in the aftermath of this vote. As a member of the clergy in this community I’m going to support the workers who have taken this courageous action by monitoring the Taj Mahal management’s behavior,” said Rev. John Scotland of Community Presbyterian Church in Brigantine.
Taj workers voted yesterday during an all-day voting session. This is the first strike authorization vote to take place in Atlantic City since 2004. In 2004, 10,000 Local 54 members struck 7 properties for 34 days.
The strike authorization vote authorizes the Local 54 Taj Mahal Contract Committee to call a strike if the committee determines it to be necessary. The Contract Committee is comprised of Local 54 members at the Taj Mahal.
The National Labor Relations Board has issued 20 complaints against the Taj Mahal for such alleged unlawful actions as threatening workers, changing schedules, changing workloads, and restricting union access.