The head of Atlantic City's main casino workers' union says billionaire investor Carl Icahn is "a malignancy that needs to be cut out" from the city's casino industry.
Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, made his comments before a scheduled protest Wednesday outside the Trump Taj Mahal casino, which Icahn is acquiring in bankruptcy court.
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The union objects to the elimination of health insurance and pension coverage by a bankruptcy judge last October. Icahn, who also owns Atlantic City's Tropicana casino, has promised to close the casino and end the jobs of its nearly 3,000 workers if an appeals panel reinstates the benefits, calling them unaffordable in the current economic climate in Atlantic City.
"We're here to stand up to the biggest bully in the New Jersey casino industry, Carl Icahn," McDevitt told The Associated Press. "He's a malignancy that needs to be cut out from the Atlantic City casino industry."
Icahn says the union cares more about fees for its health care plan than the jobs of its workers, and he renewed his accusation that costly union rules contributed to the closing of three casinos last year.
"It's absurd that instead of working to improve Atlantic City at a time when the city is down on its luck, this union spends time, effort and money to purposefully destroy one of the few remaining employers in town," Icahn replied. "I'm baffled by how they don't see that their destructive efforts may well result in 3,000 less jobs."
He said that even with the savings from the cuts, the casino is still losing "millions every month."
The union's planned demonstration outside the casino Wednesday evening is to be its ninth public protest against Icahn or the benefit cuts since last year.
The Delaware bankruptcy judge also allowed the Taj Mahal's parent company, Trump Entertainment Resorts, to unilaterally impose new work rules including increasing performance quotas for room cleaners, using more outsourcing and eliminating paid lunch breaks.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC