By Hilary Russ
(Reuters) - Employees at the Trump Taj Mahal casino, in New Jersey's struggling gambling hub Atlantic City, have voted to authorize a strike over sharp cuts in pay, benefits and other issues, their union said on Friday.
The union membership vote, conduced all day on Thursday, gives the employees' negotiating committee the power to call a strike if it feels such a move is warranted.
About a thousand people would potentially walk out, including bartenders, cocktail waitresses, bellmen, cooks and housekeepers, according to Ben Begleiter, a spokesman for UNITE HERE Local 54. He said gaming positions would not be affected.
The union is fighting moves by Carl Icahn to slash healthcare and pension benefits. Icahn won approval in March from a bankruptcy judge to trade his debt to equity ownership of the casino.
An Icahn spokesperson did not have an immediate comment.
The last time Atlantic City's casino industry workers struck was in 2004, when about 10,000 employees at seven gambling properties walked off the job for 34 days, Begleiter said.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by David Gregorio)