- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - As a pivotal hearing drew near that could decide the fate of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, its owners and its main union clashed over pension contributions and what the company called “harassment” of its convention clients.

In a court filing Tuesday, Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union offered to accept reduced pension contributions, but would not agree to any efforts to end them. Trump Entertainment Resorts is demanding that workers give up their entire pension and health care coverage as part of a complex plan to keep the casino open. Trump Entertainment plans to shut the Taj Mahal on Nov. 13 if it doesn’t get concessions from the union and massive tax breaks from Atlantic City and the county and state governments.

Atlantic City already has rejected that demand.

The company’s proposed reorganization hinges on its lender, billionaire Carl Icahn, pumping $100 million in new money into the casino, which he would then own. Trump Entertainment wants a bankruptcy court judge in Delaware to let it terminate its union contract. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 14.

Both sides will meet on Friday for a negotiating session.

Robert Griffin, Trump Entertainment’s CEO, would not comment directly on the union’s new offer but said the company “will remain committed to negotiating in good faith. We hope to make the most of the three hours we will be meeting for on Friday.”

The union also wants the eventual owner of Trump Entertainment - most likely Icahn - to be bound by its union contract.

The company also accused the union of interfering with its business operations by “harassing” convention customers and trying to scare them away from the casino.

In a filing Wednesday, the company included an email from a union organizer to Taj Mahal customers that read, “Please check your event contract immediately to make sure you have secured language that will protect your event should the Taj Mahal close and/or if there is a labor dispute.”

The filing also says the union is threatening to put up picket lines that Taj Mahal attendees would have to cross. One group already has backed out of a booking, the company said.

Union spokesman Ben Begleiter said the group is “well within our rights under the First Amendment to let people know there is a labor dispute going on here.”

Four of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos have closed this year; the Taj Mahal would be the fifth.

Icahn has said he would consider putting $100 million into the Taj Mahal, but only if all the preconditions were met, including union givebacks, a drastic lessening of the tax assessments of the Taj Mahal and the now-shuttered Trump Plaza casino, and $25 million in tax credits from a state redevelopment agency.

The company must soon decide whether to close the Taj Mahal; it would need time to file a formal request with New Jersey casino regulators to close the casino by its Nov. 13 deadline - something it has not yet done.

___

Wayne Parry can be reached at https://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide