Taj Protest

Hundreds of unionized casino workers picket in front of Trump Taj Mahal Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, Friday March 13, 2015, in protest of Billionaire Carl Icahn, who wants to strip workers of their healthcare benefits.

Michael Ein

A plan for Trump Taj Mahal to emerge from bankruptcy under new ownership by summer could be sidetracked if a union asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review a case over health and pension benefits rescinded from casino workers.

Taj’s lenders — companies controlled by Wall Street mogul Carl Icahn — say they won’t take over the casino-hotel unless UNITE-HERE Local 54 loses the case definitively.

Last month, a federal appeals court rejected the union’s challenge of a cost-cutting campaign executed by Taj operator Trump Entertainment Resorts.

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The union, which represents hospitality workers, has until mid-April to ask the high court to review that ruling.

Attorneys for Local 54 are “still deciding” whether to make that request, union President Bob McDevitt said. Meanwhile, union representatives are talking with the Icahn camp “about restoring what the bankruptcy judge stripped away,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Trump Taj Mahal did not return a request for comment.

Under a reorganization plan approved by the judge last year, the lenders would convert debt to equity and take control of the Boardwalk property, which saw gambling revenue fall 16.5 percent last year.

Icahn, who owns Tropicana Casino and Resort, has spent tens of millions of dollars propping Taj up during its bankruptcy reorganization. He says he’ll lend $80 million more to the casino after its reorganization is complete.

But the plan is premised on Trump Entertainment securing a decisive defeat in the worker-benefits case — something that could take months or more than a year.

The January ruling by the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was a crucial milestone in the reorganization plan. Nevertheless, the plan, which received court approval last year, states that the Icahn-controlled lenders will take over Trump Entertainment only when a “final order” is obtained in the benefits litigation.

The Third Circuit ruling is not a “final order” because the union can still ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

Local 54’s case claims the National Labor Relations Board, not U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross, who approved the cuts, should have handled the benefits dispute.

If the Supreme Court declines to review the case, the litigation would be over and the “final order” obtained.

If it takes the case, the court wrangling could continue for months.

Contact: 609-272-7239

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Copy desk chief / comics blogger

Press copy editor since 2006, copy desk chief since 2014. Masters in journalism from Temple University, 2006. My weekly comics blog, Wednesday Morning Quarterback, appears Wednesday mornings at PressofAC.com.

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