Hell hath no fury like casino workers scorned.
The Associated Press reported that members of Local 54 of the Unite-Here union will go on strike after it has failed to reach a deal with union negotiators. The union is calling for the reinstatement of the health insurance and pension benefits of casino workers that have been stripped off them nearly two years ago.
Close to 1,000 union workers will conduct a mass walk out in Taj Mahal to kick-off their protest action, according to the union.
“As a result, nearly a thousand cooks, housekeepers, bellmen and servers from the Trump Taj Mahal will walk off the job this morning ahead of the industry’s biggest holiday weekend to fight for decent wages, basic benefits and the future of their middle class livelihoods,” the union said in a statement issued early Friday.
The work stoppage comes on the critical July 4 weekend, among the busiest of the year for Atlantic City casinos. It was not immediately clear whether the Taj Mahal planned to press management into service, hire temporary replacement workers, or some combination of both.
Part of the reason why the talks between the two parties broke down was due to the supposed clash between Icahn and Local 54 leadership, particularly its president, Bob McDevitt, which has grown acrimonious and intensely personal.
Icahn earlier likened McDevitt and the union to extortionists, while the union president called Icahn “a cancer” that needs to be cut out of Atlantic City. The casino mogul repeatedly threatened to withdraw financial support for the casino and force it to close if he was forced to restore health and pension benefits.
Taj Mahal – which Icahn kept afloat during its bankruptcy before he took it over in March – was one of the five Atlantic City casinos that the union targeted to conduct labor disruption. The union’s goal is to recoup concessions it gave the casinos in past negotiations when the gambling halls were in worse financial shape.
Before the deadline ended, the union announced on Thursday that it has reached an agreement with Bally’s, Caesars, and Harrah’s – all owned by Caesars entertainment.
“We bargained through the night with Caesars, and our negotiating committee has recommended that the membership ratify the tentative agreement,” McDevitt told the news wire agency. “We are glad that Caesars Entertainment recognized the importance of fair wages and benefits to the workers in Atlantic City.”
Kevin Ortzman, president of Caesars and Bally’s, said it was important for Caesars Entertainment to reach a deal.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Local 54 that keeps our employees at work and allows them to continue to deliver the outstanding service and experience that our guests have come to expect,” he told The Associated Press. “Caesars Entertainment is proud of the investments it has made to contribute to Atlantic City’s revitalization and will continue to help drive the city’s revival.”
Tropicana casino – also owned by Icahn – was the last gaming resort to reach an agreement with Unite-Here on a new union contract.