Federal judge: Atlantic City's main casino workers' union didn't violate bankruptcy law

Associated Press

A judge says Atlantic City's main casino workers' union didn't violate federal bankruptcy law by discouraging Trump Taj Mahal's events clients from patronizing the resort.

Trump Entertainment Resorts, Taj's corporate parent, wanted compensation for purportedly lost business. It also sought an order barring Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union from issuing similar communications.

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U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross denied the firm's request in an order issued Tuesday and made public Wednesday. The judge ruled that the union's communications, part of a larger boycott against the troubled casino, are protected by federal law on labor organizing.

Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54, praised the ruling in a statement issued Wednesday. He said the union was grateful to the "numerous" people and convention groups that he said have honored the boycott.

Trump Entertainment CEO Robert Griffin declined comment on the ruling. The company had argued that the union's emails and telephone calls to the casino's clients violated legal protections that generally bar groups from interfering with a bankrupt company's assets.

Trump Entertainment Resorts owns the property now, but lender Carl Icahn is taking ownership as it comes out of bankruptcy. Last year, the casino ended pension and health insurance for its unionized workers.

"Ten months ago, the Taj Mahal Contract Committee took the extraordinary move of calling for a boycott of their own casino in order to protest Carl Icahn's attack on their lives and livelihoods and to restore their benefits in a new agreement," McDevitt said. "We knew at that point that Carl Icahn didn't have the legal right to stop us from talking to Taj Mahal customers.

The ruling came just days after workers at the Trump Taj Mahal authorized a strike against the casino.