By Cleve Bryan
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (CBS) – No tax breaks and no elimination of workers’ benefits may soon mean no more Taj Mahal Casino as union and elected leaders made their stance crystal clear Friday.
“We don’t need people like Carl Icahn here – billionaires that prey on working people are not acceptable,” said New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney on Friday.
Icahn owns the majority of Trump Entertainment’s debt and has said he would invest $100 million to save the Taj from closing.
His offer comes with strings attached. Union leaders say workers are being asked to give up health and pension benefits. Icahn also wants a tax break from the City of Atlantic City and $25 million in state tax credits.
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian has already said he won’t give new tax breaks and state lawmakers say they’re not playing ball either.
“You’re getting nothing from us until you treat workers with respect and dignity,” said Sweeney.
Unite Here Local 54 President Bob McDevitt says even if workers gave away benefits to save their jobs the Taj may close in the near future anyway.
He says such a damaging concession would weaken union agreements with other casinos whose management could demand an equal deal.
“So what Mr. Icahn is trying to negotiate is the complete decimation of healthcare and retirement in Atlantic City,” said McDevitt.
In response to a rally held out front of the Tropicana Casino, which he controls, Icahn criticized Sweeney for taking part in discussions to expand gambling to Northern New Jersey.
He also directed a message to Mayor Guardian which said in part, “I, like you, would like to see Atlantic City saved, but to accomplish this investors need to believe they have a chance. Today, obviously this is not the case.”
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