On Wednesday, Tony Rodio, president of the Taj’s management firm Tropicana Entertainment, announced that the Taj Mahal would close “after Labor Day weekend.” The news comes the same day that the strike called last month by Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union tied the record for the longest work stoppage in AC history.
Rodio said the Taj was “losing multi-millions a month” and Trop Ent’s directors “cannot just allow the Taj to continue burning through tens of millions of dollars when the union has singlehandedly blocked any path to profitability.”
Around 1k Local 54 members walked off the job ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend to protest the cancellation of their health and pension benefits by billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who assumed ownership of the Taj after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2014.
Icahn has offered to partially restore these benefits but not to the level that Local 54 is demanding, claiming that the offer isn’t even on par with the benefits enjoyed by workers at Icahn’s other AC property, the Tropicana. Thursday will mark the 35th day that Local 54’s workers have been picketing, officially eclipsing the 34-day strike the union led against seven AC casinos in 2004.
Given that Labor Day isn’t for another month, the possibility of a settlement remains. Rodio said the Taj’s future would remain far from certain even if the union accepted the company’s most recent offer, but “at least there would be hope.”
Local 54 boss Bob McDevitt slammed Icahn’s shutdown threat as “petty,” noting that “a few million bucks” would have bought the billionaire “labor peace and a content workforce.” But McDevitt said Icahn preferred to “slam the door shut on these long-term workers just to punish them and attempt to break their strike.”
Should the Taj close, it would be the fifth casino to shut its doors in recent years, following the 2014 closures of Revel, the Showboat, the Atlantic Club and the Trump Plaza. In true Darwinian fashion, the eight surviving casinos have been slowly working their way back towards profitability in recent months.
The Taj’s closure would also leave around 3k workers jobless, joining the roughly 8k staff who lost their jobs when the other four properties closed.