ATLANTIC CITY — A line formed at the entrance to the grand ballroom in Bally’s Wednesday morning as job seekers, many of them Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort employees, waited patiently to interview for one of 500 open casino positions.
For the casinos, the Taj Mahal employees offered an experienced pool of candidates from which to draw.
For Taj employees, the job fair was a new opportunity.
Throughout the day, a steady stream of applicants interviewed for the positions Caesars Entertainment is hoping to fill at its three Atlantic City casinos -- Bally’s, Harrah’s Resort and Caesars -- as well as Harrah’s Philadelphia and Horseshoe Casino Baltimore.
The gaming corporation targeted Taj Mahal workers after it was announced earlier this month that the resort would close on Oct. 10 because of finanicial woes due in part to a union strike. About 1,000 Local 54 members have been picketing since July 1 in hopes of attaining better health care.
Mel Clements works in marketing at the Taj, but has been helping out in other areas during the strike. She said it’s a “great place to work.”
“I really love working there. It’s really sad,” said Clements, 28, of Pleasantville, about the closing. “I grew up coming there as a kid; my grandmother would take me there every year.”
Clements hoped to find a job in marketing or food and beverage.
“I’ll take anything. A job is a blessing,” she said.
She was happy that Caesars was reaching out to Taj employees to try and help them.
“I thought it was really great that people actually care. I just hope everyone finds a job,” Clements said.
William Foglio of Atlantic City is a dual rate supervisor at Taj and was looking for the same or a similar position.
Foglio has been working in the casinos for 30 years. He worked at several of the now-closed resorts including Trump Plaza and Revel.
Although the job fair was soliciting employees for both in and out-of-state, Foglio said he has to stay local.
“I’m a single father. I have a 5-year-old little boy and I don’t want to leave him,” he said.
He said some of his coworkers are trying for jobs out of state, others are retiring.
Foglio blamed the Local 54 for the casino’s closing.
“If they didn’t strike, we’d still be open. The place was doing good,” he said.
The closing of Taj marks the sixth casino property to shut down in the last 10 years. The Sands was closed and demolished in 2006 to make way for the Pinnacle casino, which was never built. About 2,000 employees lost their jobs.
The Atlantic Club, formerly the Hilton, closed in early 2014. Later that year, Trump Plaza, Revel and Showboat shuttered their doors leaving a total of 8,000 people without jobs.
Currently, there are about 2,800 employees at Taj.
Foglio said it was sad to see the state of affairs in Atlantic City. He said the city and the state made bad choices.
“I think when they were making all that money back in the day, they should have invested properly,” Foglio said.
Local 54 member Charles Baker, a 26-year Taj employee, was in line Wednesday morning looking to find a job before he loses his current one.
“The opportunity is there, so you have to take advantage of it,” Baker said.
Taj dealer LaSheenah Wyatt said she is looking to get out of the city. Wyatt, 29, of Atlantic City attended the MGM job fair at The Borgata held earlier this month to employ hundreds of workers at MGM National Harbor in Maryland.
“Atlantic City, business-wise, you’re not promised a job. I just think out of town has more opportunity,” she said. “You have to survive at the moment.”
Of the 500 positions to fill, 200 were in Atlantic City, said Noel Stevenson, spokeswoman for Caesars Entertainment.
Open positions included food and beverage, table games, surveillance, security, marketing, and finance.
In Baltimore, Horseshoe general manager Erin Chamberlin said the Atlantic City employees will bring their skills and knowledge to the fairly new gambling market there. Chamberlin, who also serves as senior vice president, said some Atlantic City employees would have the opportunity to advance their positions in Maryland. She said the casino works with employees to help them relocate if necessary.
“We’ve successfully relocated many folks from Atlantic City already,” she said.
This is the second of three job fairs this month. A third job fair will be hosted by Tioga Downs Aug. 29-30 at the Claridge Hotel.