July 13, 2016 was a hot and sunny day in New York City, a perfect day to be in Atlantic City – at the beach or strolling the boardwalk, having a drink poolside at the Trump Taj Mahal hotel or playing the slots in an attempt to win enough cash to pay for the trip.
Instead of being in Atlantic City, Trump Taj Mahal casino workers, who have been striking since July 1, 2016, got in their cars and vans and headed to New York City; they parked themselves in front of the door to Carl Icahn enterprises to give the billionaire a personal “wake up” call.
On July 1, 2016, over 1,000 cooks, housekeepers, bellmen and servers from the Trump Taj Mahal stopped working and started to strike because they can no longer afford to work. Over the last 12 years they have received a whopping $.80 raise while the cost of living in Atlantic City has increased by 25 percent during the same time frame. The striking employees earn, on average, less than $12 per hour.
Kick Them When They Are Down
From 2010-2014, Icahn received $350 million from the Taj property as the principle creditor, sending the property into bankruptcy. He used the bankruptcy proceeding to grab the health benefits, retirement security and paid breaks from the workers… cutting their compensation in wages and benefits by 35 percent.
Without health benefits, half of Taj workers depend on subsidized health insurance. One-third of the workers have no health insurance at all, putting them at risk of bankruptcy in the event of an illness. Who ends up paying for the health care of these workers when they show up in a hospital emergency room: the taxpayer! To add insult to injury, some of the employees, working full-time, have to rely on food stamps to feed their families.
Carl Icahn and Donald Trump have a history of deal making and Icahn has supported the Trump for President Campaign. They are so close that Trump has suggested Icahn be named Treasury Secretary. Is this really the way to “make American great again?”
Al Russo, Vice President, Local 1101 of the Communication Workers of America, a founding member of the Take on Wall Street coalition, supported the strikers and noted parallels to the recent strike his union went through at Verizon, “This is how Wall Street billionaires are destroying our economy. Instead of investing in companies and workers for the long-term, they want every single dollar for themselves and they want them now.”
The Taj workers were supported by representatives from the CWA, the AFL-CIO, Hedge Clippers, the Working Families Party, and Take on Wall Street. These organizations released a report on Icahn’s management of 10 companies, detailing how he made millions of dollars in profits while eliminating 35,000 jobs and eliminating benefits for over 120,000 workers.
United Here represents workers throughout the United States and Canada who work in the hotel, gaming, food, service, airport, textile, manufacturing, distribution, laundry and transportation industries. For more information, click here.
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