For immediate release
September 8, 2016
Striking Casino Workers Tell Congress: Pass Brokaw Act to Protect Workers from the Likes of Carl Icahn
(Washington, D.C.)—Three busloads of striking casino workers travelled from the historic Atlantic City Boardwalk to the halls of the Capital today to lobby Congress about the need for Senate Bill 2720, also known as the Brokaw Act, to protect working people from vulture investors like Carl Icahn.
“Carl Icahn came to Atlantic City, sucked $350 million out of Trump casinos, turned our middle-class jobs into poverty jobs and then when we stood up to him, Icahn decided to close our workplace and kick 3,000 people to the curb,” said Charles Baker, a Taj Mahal cook since the day it opened in 1990. “I’m here because I want Congress to pass the Brokaw Act, to stop this from happening to other families.”
The Brokaw Act was named after a small town in Wisconsin that went bankrupt after its primary employer succumbed to pressure from an activist hedge fund and closed most of its paper mills. The bill is designed to curb the ability of self-appointed activists, like Carl Icahn, to secretly amass shares and solicit votes for corporate restructurings that provide windfalls for the activists but often have disastrous consequences for workers, communities, and the companies themselves.
In his long career as a corporate raider and then activist, Carl Icahn has left a trail of layoffs, health benefit cuts, and terminated pension plans. And since 2011, companies he has targeted as an activist have committed almost $110 billion to share buybacks.
In Atlantic City, Icahn has had a hand in the closure of three casinos, putting 4,600 people out of work. Now, he is threatening to close a fourth casino, imperiling the jobs of an additional 3,000 employees.
“I used to be able to provide for my family, now I’m facing the unemployment line all because Carl Icahn wanted to make a few more bucks,” said Marc Scittina, a 26-year Food Server at the Taj.
Since July 1, about 1,000 cooks, bartenders, housekeepers, cocktail servers and other service workers have been on strike at the Trump Taj Mahal. Workers are trying to reenter the middle-class after Icahn used the bankruptcy court to strip them of pay and benefits worth more than 1/3 of their total compensation. Many workers at the Trump Taj Mahal, including those with many years on the job, have seen only $.80 per hour in total raises over the last twelve years. The cost of living in Atlantic City has risen over 25 percent in the same time period.
Housekeepers, servers and other casino workers at the Taj Mahal earn on average less than $12/ hour. A recent union survey revealed half now must rely on taxpayer-subsidized health insurance and a third have no health insurance at all.