By David Madden

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (CBS) — Unionized staffers at the Trump Taj Mahal have given their leadership the authority to call a strike if efforts to attain a new contract do not bear fruit.

One thousand members of Local 54 UNITE HERE were asked whether they’d be willing to walk over their ongoing dispute with billionaire Carl Ichan, who pulled their pension and health care coverage as part of bankruptcy proceedings to take over the Taj.

Union President Bob McDevitt said “There was an overwhelming majority vote of the workers. 80 percent voted to authorize the contract committee at the Taj Mahal to call a strike if they deem it necessary.”

The union is in court attempting to reverse the earlier ruling.

Local 54 represents everyone but dealers and security guards there.

McDevitt lays the blame squarely at the feet of the billionaire. “This is not Carl Ichan’s city. He wasn’t elected Emperor,” McDevitt said in an interview with KYW Newsradio. “He needs to play in the sandbox like everybody else by the rules, as opposed to trying to upset the apple cart and destroy everyone’s standard of living.”

The last time a strike authorization was taken by local 54 was in 2004, involving the entire city. Seven casinos were shut down for more than a month.

Representatives for the Trump Taj Mahal have not returned a request for comment on the strike threat. In the past, Ichan has blamed union leadership in general, and McDevitt in particular, for many of the problems there of late. He has suggested he will close the casino if the union’s appeal on the health and pension plans is successful.