AFL-CIO urges union boycott of Atlantic City casinos owned by billionaire Carl Icahn

Industries Associated Press

A major labor union on Thursday urged fellow union members to boycott Atlantic City casinos that are owned or about to be owned by billionaire Carl Icahn.

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The New Jersey State AFL-CIO asked union members to boycott the Tropicana, which Icahn owns, and the Trump Taj Mahal, which he is in the process of acquiring from bankruptcy court.

The union cited a bitter fight between the Taj Mahal and Local 54 of the Unite-HERE casino workers union over the company's termination of health insurance and pension plans for Taj Mahal workers. The local union has authorized a strike against the Taj Mahal but has not yet begun one.

"We respectfully ask affiliated union members and their friends and family to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at Unite-HERE Local 54, who have borne the brunt of Icahn's ruthless and greedy assault on workers," the AFL-CIO said in a statement.

It called on the "billionaire robber-baron" to restore health and pension coverage to workers. Trump Entertainment Resorts got a federal bankruptcy to approve the termination of those benefits last October.

Icahn did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. But he has said the union-run health plan is unaffordable and excessive.

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The union has asked an appeals court to reinstate the benefits, and a ruling is expected soon. But Icahn has said if they are restored, he will withdraw financial support from the Taj Mahal, forcing it to close.

He has said the union-run health plan is a cash-cow that charges unjustifiable fees to generate a profit for the union.

Many Taj Mahal workers have had to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, with a subsidy from Trump Entertainment. But some say they still cannot afford it, and are simply going without health insurance.

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