Owners: Taj Mahal to stay open throughout November
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Trump Entertainment Resorts is dropping its threat to close Atlantic City's Taj Mahal casino on Nov. 13.
The company said Wednesday it still cannot guarantee the Taj Mahal won't close by the end of the year, but added it will definitely remain open throughout the month of November.
Trump Entertainment has been pursuing a long-shot rescue plan to re-finance the company and transfer ownership to billionaire Carl Icahn, who would pump $100 million into it. But the plan hinges on getting $175 million in state assistance that state Senate President Steve Sweeney has already ruled out.
"As of now we don't have any plan to close the Taj, but that could change next month," Robert Griffin, CEO of Trump Entertainment, told The Associated Press. "We still need our plan to be approved, and we need assistance from the state with no assurance we're going to get it.
"We can't say we're not going to close the Taj before the end of the year," Griffin said. "But we can say it won't close in November."
The company says it acted Wednesday in part to assure customers that a Culture Club concert scheduled for Nov. 28 will go on as planned.
Four of Atlantic City's 12 casinos have closed this year, putting 8,000 casino workers on the street. If the Taj Mahal became the fifth, the unemployment total would soar to 11,000.
Recent events appear to have given it at least a few weeks' breathing room. Last Friday a bankruptcy judge in Delaware granted the company's request to terminate health care coverage and pension contributions for the Taj Mahal's 3,000 workers. The company said it would have closed the casino had the ruling gone against it.
The new timetable for a possible closure came as the company continued to battle its main union. Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union told a federal bankruptcy judge Wednesday that Trump Entertainment Resorts cannot stop it from contacting customers, letting them know about the labor dispute and urging them to go elsewhere.
The union is warning customers of further labor unrest; picketing there is set for Friday.
On Oct. 8, the company asked the judge to order the union to send letters to everyone it contacted, acknowledging that its previous communications were "misleading." It also wants a list of everyone the union contacted.
In its response Wednesday, the union countered that a federal law called the Norris-LaGuardia Act prohibits federal courts from barring publicity connected with a labor dispute.
"This is well-established and uncontroversial," union attorney William Josem wrote. He also said the order the company seeks would be unconstitutional because it would violate the union's First Amendment rights.
Contacting customers of a casino with which it is engaged in a dispute is a time-honored tactic of the union. It used similar tactics to dissuade clients of the Tropicana Casino Resort and Resorts Casino Hotel during contract disputes in the last seven years.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC