ATLANTIC CITY — “The rain won’t stop us,” and, “No contract, no peace,” were the mantras for Trump Taj Mahal workers Sunday morning as the strike continued.

“All day, all night, Taj Mahal is on strike!” the members chanted loudly as they carried signs up and down the sidewalk in front of the struggling casino.

Many blamed Taj Mahal owner Carl Icahn, and others said they are not valued or respected as employees.

The strike started Friday morning with about 1,000 members of UNITE-HERE Local 54 at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. By Sunday morning, members were still chanting and banging paint cans like drums, but they also had entertainment and dancing with bachata and merengue music.

On Friday, contract negotiations fell apart around midnight when the casino offered only “a shadow” of health benefits that were negotiated at four other casinos Thursday, union President Bob McDevitt said.

Kathleen Lescas, 56, said her 26-year career at Taj Mahal as a cocktail waitress helped her raise her two daughters as a single mother. Lescas said she feels like she is living in a world where hard work and loyalty mean nothing.

“The Taj could be Icahn’s legacy. There’s no dishonorable job, and they are all honorable. Why wouldn’t Icahn want to do the right thing and be our hero?” she said.

As visitors to Taj Mahal crossed the picket line Sunday morning, Lescas said she and her fellow employees want the public to know they are not trying to close the casino.

“What’s happening now is they are working to make money off of us at the cost of people who made this business. You can’t run this place without us,” she said.

The restoration of health benefits has been a fight for Taj Mahal workers for the last two years, after a federal judge allowed the casino to end health and pension payments in bankruptcy.

“They are here now taking advantage of what a bankruptcy judge did,” said Lescas.

Elizabeth Wilkins said Icahn should do the same thing as the other casinos did last week and come to an agreement about a contract and benefits.

“I don’t care if it rains. It’s just not fair. We lost a good Fourth of July weekend here. I could have made $700 in three days, easy,” said Wilkins, 56, who works in room service.

“I don’t know how long we’ll be out here, but I’m going to keep on keepin’ on,” she said.

The casino remained open this weekend, and Friday, Taj Mahal General Manager Alan Rivin said strike contingency plans were in place for the casino to remain open and fully functioning through the weekend and the summer.

“We are fighting for benefits and for our families. They need a settlement. Everyone can make money, but you’ve got to take care of your people. We have all different races and creeds here, and everyone in this line has children,” said Alfred Kare, 47, of Galloway Township, who works at Plate restaurant as a waiter.

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Senior copy editor

20 years and still learning: 6 months at the Santa Fe New Mexican, 2 years at the Gloucester County Times, and The Press of Atlantic City ever since.

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