Casino Workers Demonstrate Over Taj Mahal Closure

The deal to revive Revel casino has apparently just gone south. Press of Atlantic City is reporting that prospective buyer Brookfield is backing out.

Meanwhile, outside the Convention Center, hundreds of casino workers are marching. Their target isn’t the League of Municipalities conference. It’s billionaire Carl Icahn. The Trump Taj Mahal is being handed to him to pay off debt. Icahn was threatening to shut it down unless he got substantial state aid. Today he said he’d keep it open without state aid if Local 54 drops its lawsuit over ending worker benefits. If they don’t, Icahn says he’s closing the Taj Dec. 12. It will be the fifth casino this year to go out of business.

NJTV News Correspondent David Cruz was in Atlantic City where he said about 1,000 demonstrators were expressing their opinions about the casino closures.

He spoke with UNITE HERE Local 54 President Bob McDevitt about the gathering.

“We want to make it a point that the entire state is focused in on this fight,” he said.

According to McDevitt, the bankruptcy judge’s ruling allowing Trump Entertainment to stop paying for worker health care and pensions at Taj Mahal “strips out basically the entire contract, with the exception of the wages, which means these jobs are not the jobs that were conceived when they first talked about gaming in Atlantic City.”

McDevitt said it affects about 1,200 workers at the Taj Mahal who would be working for an average of $12 per hour with no benefits.

McDevitt said he’s optimistic about Gov. Chris Christie’s task force to help Atlantic City. “I am very enthusiastic about the governor’s summit. I was part of it. I was fortunate to be part of the group. And I’m very, very happy with the concepts and the initiatives they’re gonna take,” he said.

While McDevitt isn’t happy with casino closures in Atlantic City, he understands. “Well no you’re not comfortable with less working people but I think that we’re down around to where the size makes sense economically for the rest of the casinos here in town.”