Whelan: Bill would prevent Icahn from closing Taj and reopening as non-union casino

A bill approved by a New Jersey Senate committee would prevent an owner who shuts down a casino from reopening it for five years.

The measure is a response to Carl Icahn’s planned October 10th shutdown of the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City where unionized workers have been on strike since July in a dispute over benefits.

Senator Jim Whelan says the legislation would prevent Icahn from closing the Taj and then reopening it as a non-union property. 

“We don’t think that’s fair to the union. I mean the union has agreements with everybody else in town including Tropicana which is a Carl Icahn owned property. We think this is a way to keep the parties at the table and hopefully get an accord and get the property reopened and get people back to work.”

Whelan says the legislation would allow a casino to re-open sooner than five years if the owner and union both agree to it. 

Ben Begleiter is the research director for Unite Here Local 54. He says the bill is good public policy and would provide stability for thousands of Atlantic City casino workers.

“It creates a disincentive for casino owners who might to want to avoid any sort of perceived temporary problem by closing a casino with a plan to reopen it at a later date.”

The Senate Budget Committee voted unanimously to advance the legislation. The Asssembly hasn’t considered it yet.

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