ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Workers from the Trump Taj Mahal casino will march to Mayor Don Guardian's office Monday morning to ask him to reconsider granting concessions the struggling casino says are necessary to keep it open.
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About 1,000 employees have signed a petition calling on the mayor and other elected officials "to do everything possible" to keep the casino open.
The Taj Mahal has threatened to close in December if it doesn't get a $175 million package of aid from the Atlantic City and state governments. The company has asked the city to drastically reduce its property tax assessments, something Guardian has already ruled out as unaffordable for a city with severe budget problems.
Valerie Bisset, a slot manager at the Taj Mahal, said many employees want a voice in the casino's future.
"I have been here since January 1990, months before the casino opened," she said. "There are so many people who have given their lives to this company. We can do well here. We just need the support."
Guardian did not immediately respond to a message Sunday seeking comment.
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The march comes as the fight to save the Taj Mahal approaches its final phase. Its parent company, Trump Entertainment Resorts, is in bankruptcy and says it can only commit to keeping the casino open through November.
Trump Entertainment has been pursuing a long-shot rescue plan to refinance the company and transfer ownership to billionaire Carl Icahn, who would pump $100 million into it. But the plan hinges on getting $175 million in state and city assistance that state Senate President Steve Sweeney also has already ruled out.
The local portion of that aid would involve Atlantic City reducing the tax assessment on the Taj Mahal and the recently closed Trump Plaza by as much as 80 percent. Guardian rejected that request out of hand, noting that his city is dealing with a huge budget gap that will require employee layoffs and spending cuts of $10 million per year over the next four years as a response to Atlantic City's casino meltdown this year.
So far, four of the city's 12 casinos have gone out of business, leaving 8,000 workers without jobs. The Taj Mahal would be the fifth to close.
Bisset said she organized the petition to try to help save the casino's 3,000 jobs.
"This is not union, it's not anti-union: this is just dedicated workers trying to save their jobs," she said. "We need help. Please help us. We have a good reputation; people love us, and enjoy coming here. We make a lot of people happy, and we want to stay open."
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC