The main casino union in Atlantic City threatened to strike against as many as 5 casinos in the area leading up to July 1. Last minute deals were brokered, as is typically the case in any labor battle, but sticking points between workers and one major casino continued through the deadline. The Trump Taj Mahal casino and its workers remain in a labor fight into July 4, when Atlantic City expects an annual increase in visitors.
July 4 marks the 4th day of the strike against the Trump Taj Mahal, and no talks are currently scheduled between the casino and its workers, who typically cover everything from cooking to cleaning hotel rooms. According to the union leader Bob McDevitt, roughly 98% of striking workers have agreed to stay firm and strike "as long as it takes."
Who are the workers really dealing with, and what do they want?
Despite the casino's inclusion of the name "Trump" in its title, this dispute actually has nothing to do with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. While Trump formerly had ownership interest in the casino, he began divesting same in 2006 and was fully out of the operation by 2009.
The current owner, whom decided to keep "Trump" within the casino's name, is billionaire Carl Icahn. Issues have nothing to do with Donald Trump's plan to build a wall. Instead, workers want their health insurance back and higher wages, among other benefits.
The Trump Taj Mahal had a plan in place.
The key for management of any operation, whether it be in the casino industry or otherwise, is to have contingency plans in place in case the labor force decides to strike. It is unknown how long the Trump Taj Mahal can withstand the current strike, but the casino was prepared for what was coming.
"Despite the labor action, the Taj Mahal remains open for business and is fully functioning," said Trump Taj Mahal general manager Alan Rivin on day 2 of the strike. "We have strike contingency plans in place and are prepared to welcome our guests and continue to provide everyone first-class accommodations and entertainment this weekend and throughout the summer. We expect the strike to have minimal impact on our operations. The place looks great and we have a full slate of entertainment and activities planned for the weekend."
Surely, this is what a general manager is supposed to say to the media. The focus will be on which side caves in first, but there is hope that the management team at the Trump Taj Mahal is able to convince Icahn to add some money for benefits and wages to cause an early end to this labor battle.
Why is the strike only against the Trump Taj Mahal?
The union originally targeted up to 5 Atlantic City casinos as the days were dwindling down to July 1, a date long scheduled by the union for the start of a planned strike. However, a deal was reached on June 30 between the union and 3 New Jersey casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp. (Bally's, Caesars and Harrah's) as well as another Icahn casino, the Tropicana Casino and Resort.
Icahn received the Trump Taj Mahal in bankruptcy, which is when the casino's workers lost health care and other benefits. There remains a large gap between what the workers are receiving now and what they believe they should demand based on a recent rehabilitation of the casino industry in Atlantic City, which has struggled in years past.
Other casinos have come to the table with concessions; the Trump Taj Mahal has been less willing to negotiate. One side will break in the future. It is hard to tell whether the workers of the employers will last longer.