ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Atlantic City's main casino workers union went on strike Friday morning against the Trump Taj Mahal casino. Here's a look at what led to the strike, and what to expect during it:
Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union called the strike against the Trump Taj Mahal casino. Local 54 has just under 10,000 members, about 1,000 of whom work at the Taj Mahal. They cook the food, serve the drinks, carry the luggage and clean the rooms at the casino resorts. In short, they are the infrastructure of the city's casino industry. They do not represent dealers, who will be expected to show up for work during the strike. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn owns the Taj Mahal, having taken it over in March from bankruptcy court.
The main dispute between the union and Icahn is the October 2014 termination of health insurance and pension benefits. Though it happened before Icahn owned the casino, he has repeatedly said those benefits are unaffordable in present day Atlantic City, and threatened to shut the casino down rather than be forced to restore them.
HOW TRUMP IS THIS?
Though he opened it in 1990, modestly proclaiming it as "the eighth wonder of the world," Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has nothing to do with the casino that still bears his name. He cut most ties with the company that used to own it, Trump Entertainment Resorts, in 2009 after losing control of it to bondholders in a previous bankruptcy. Aside from a 10 percent stake in the company in return for the use of his name, Trump has had nothing to do with Trump Entertainment since 2009, and even that stake was wiped out in its most recent bankruptcy when Icahn took control in March.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN?
The union called its workers off the casino floor and out of kitchens, bars, restaurants and hotel rooms at 6 a.m. It established picket lines outside the hotel, and strikers will discourage patrons from entering. A list of DOs and DONTs circulated earlier in the week by the union instructed picketers to call anyone who crosses a picket line a "scab," but warns against using any other name. Picketers are also warned by their union against blocking access to the casino, damaging property or threatening anyone.
It was unclear whether the Taj Mahal will assign managers to do tasks usually performed by union members, or whether they will bring in temporary replacement workers. A Friday night concert by the band Whitesnake is expected to go on as planned.
WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF ATLANTIC CITY?
The other seven casinos have either reached new deals with the union, or have been granted an indefinite negotiation extension, and will not be affected by the strike. They will conduct business as usual over the holiday weekend.
Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC