By David Madden

By David Madden

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  A three judge federal appeals court panel in Philadelphia has sided with billionaire Carl Ichan in his demand to strip workers at the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City of their pension and health insurance as a condition of his plan to purchase the facility.

The 30 page decision from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals backs up the ruling of Wilmington bankruptcy judge Kevin Gross, who found in favor of Trump Entertainment Resorts. That company is being bought out by Ichan, who had threatened to shut the Taj Mahal down if the ruling went against him.

Local 54 of UNITE HERE contended Gross lacked the authority to cancel their benefit package as part of the bankruptcy plan. But the appeals panel decided “it is preferable to preserve jobs through a rejection of a CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement), as opposed to losing the positions permanently.”

Ichan, who also owns the Tropicana Casino, has kept the Taj financially afloat for more than a year while this issue played out in the courts. The deal is now expected to close in short order.

Local 54, in a statement, says it has “learned in Atlantic City over the years not to rely on the courts for justice, and we have been proven right again”. The union is reviewing its options going forward.