APNewsBreak: Owner says Taj Mahal will close Dec. 12 if union presses appeal of benefit cut

Government And Institutions Associated Press

Trump Entertainment Resorts said it will close the Taj Mahal on Dec. 12 if its main union doesn't drop an appeal of a court-ordered savings package.

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CEO Robert Griffin told the Associated Press on Thursday that the company has notified the state Division of Gaming Enforcement of the planned shutdown date.

The union is appealing a bankruptcy court order that terminated the union contract, canceling health insurance and pension coverage. Griffin said if the appeal isn't withdrawn by the end of the month, the casino will close and its 3,000 jobs will be lost.

Union representatives had no immediate comment.

The notice to state regulators follows a letter the company sent Monday to its employees urging them to pressure the union to drop the appeal. In it, Griffin described the company as "a very sick patient lying on his death bed."

The company said relief from health insurance and pension costs, which was granted Oct. 17 by a bankruptcy court judge in Delaware, is essential to keeping the casino open. It described its appeal to the union as a "last ditch" effort to keep the casino open.

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"Our company is unfortunately hanging on by the skin of its teeth," Griffin wrote to Taj Mahal employees. "We are quickly running out of money."

Trump Entertainment has committed to keeping the Taj Mahal open only through the end of November.

The company is pursuing a complicated plan to save the casino by transferring ownership to billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who would pump $100 million into it. That investment is contingent on getting city or state officials to sign off on $175 million in assistance. New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian have rejected that request, and Gov. Chris Christie was decidedly cool to it at a forum on the city's future Wednesday.

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