Health fund grants 2-monh extension of insurance coverage for Taj Mahal casino workers

Associated Press

A joint union-management health care fund is giving two months of extended insurance coverage to workers at Atlantic City's Taj Mahal Casino Resort.

Unite Here Health, a fund run jointly by union and casino representatives, said it acted Tuesday due to what it called "unprecedented times in Atlantic City."

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The Taj Mahal got a bankruptcy judge earlier this month to cancel its union contract, terminating employee health insurance and pension plans. As a result, workers' insurance coverage was due to expire on Friday.

The decision by the health fund's trustees extends coverage through December. They include union representatives and representatives from Boyd Gaming, which owns the Borgata; Caesars Entertainment, which owns Caesars, Bally's and Harrah's; MGM Resorts, and others. The fund provides health coverage to employees in the hospitality industries throughout the United States.

The Taj Mahal casino said it needed the cost relief to avoid having to close the struggling casino.

Trump Entertainment Resorts will only commit to keeping the Taj Mahal open through the end of November.

It is pursuing a complicated plan to save the casino by transferring ownership to billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who would pump $100 million into it. But that investment is contingent on ending the union contract, which the judge did on Oct. 17, as well as getting state officials to sign off on $175 million in assistance. New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney has already rejected that request.

About 3,000 people work at the Taj Mahal. If it closes, it would be the fifth of Atlantic City's 12 casinos to go out of business this year.

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