Today, I witnessed first-hand the measures that some workers are willing to go to in order to receive fair work pay and benefits. Crowds of Trump Taj Mahal workers were stationed all around the Atlantic City boardwalk (and neighboring venues) to protest their healthcare, pensions, and paid breaks being taken away. They marched and chanted in front of the casino entrances, spreading the message: DO NOT GO INTO THE TRUMP TAJ MAHAL CASINO!”

My inner tourist was quite curious, as where I am from not many workers feel so obliged as to stage formal strikes and protests. I approached one of the groups, and upon asking for more information, was directed to a worker named Gregory Natale. I was able to get Mr. Natale’s permission to video record the union workers on strike, and also managed to conduct a brief interview:

George (me): “How’s it going, I’m right here watching a group of workers on strike against the Trump Taj Mahal. What’s your name?”

Gregory: “Gregory Natale.”

George: “Gregory Natale. What are you guys on strike for?”

Gregory: “Because every other casino in town got a full contract, and instead of giving us the full contract, he wanted to give us a shadow of healthcare–and that’s it. They took away our paid breaks, pension, severance, holiday pay–everything. [They also took away] a lot of other things that added up to be about one third of our income.”

George: “Oh wow.”

Gregory: “We ended up being forced to go onto Obamacare, and the American tax-payer pays for that. And this guy’s worth 22 billion dollars.”

George: “What is your opinion on Trump’s candidacy as a President?”

Gregory: “No comment.”

George: “(laughing) You gave me some pretty disgusted faces there! What is your view on this upcoming presidential election in November?”

Gregory: “No comment.”

After concluding our brief interview and collecting a flyer from Mr. Natale, I realized that these workers have actually been on strike since July 1st. Mr. Natale also informed me that Donald Trump himself shifted ownership of the Taj Mahal to Trump Entertainment Resorts this past February. Although it still retained his name, Trump Taj Mahal is now actually a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises, and Trump no longer has any ownership stake.

However, this comes after the Taj Mahal had already filed for bankruptcy multiple times while Trump still maintained partial ownership. On August 3, 2016, it was announced that the Taj Mahal would be shut down permanently after Labor Day, and Icahn blames Atlantic City’s main casino workers union for inciting its workers, saying, “Why have they incited you, the union workers at the Taj, to destroy your jobs and your livelihood rather than accept the prior offer that we made at McDevitt’s suggestion?”

Union president Bob McDevitt fires back:

“Carl Icahn has taken hundreds of millions of dollars out of Atlantic City over the past several years… He told the workers they were the most important asset of the property. Now, rather than negotiate with those same workers, he has decided he would rather close down. It has been nothing but the usual my-way-or-the-highway from Carl Icahn. That’s not trying to reach an agreement; that’s punishing working people for standing up to injustice.”

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