ATLANTIC CITY — Former employees of the closed Trump Taj Mahal received settlement checks as a result of a labor dispute with their ex-employer on the very day the property reopened on the Boardwalk as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
The $1 million settlement between Unite Here Local 54 and the casino hotel’s former ownership group, Trump Entertainment, was divided equally among 944 employees Thursday and Friday. Each employee received a check for $850.76.
Keith Fullmer, a bartender who worked at Taj Mahal for 16 years and currently works at Hard Rock, said the money was secondary to notching a win against the property’s former owner, billionaire Carl Icahn.
“The thing that makes this nice is it’s Carl’s money,” Fullmer, 67, said after opening his check inside the Local 54 office on Atlantic Avenue. “It’s just the idea that we put him out of business and we were, I believe, the first union to stand up to him and win.”
The settlement’s origins date to 2014, when Local 54 members at the Taj Mahal went on strike for 102 days. The casino hotel filed for bankruptcy in September of that year. The following month, the casino filed a motion that reflected its desire to reject the terms of employment contracts with former employees, which a bankruptcy court upheld.
Local 54 and two individual members proceeded to file numerous unfair labor practice charges against the casino. The National Labor Relations Board found the charges to have merit.
Before the issue went to trial last year, the union and the former casino reached a settlement with specific criteria for which employees were eligible to receive compensation. On Thursday, Local 54 members were allowed to come gather their checks.
“I think it’s very satisfying that on the same day that we were able to reopen Hard Rock we were able to deliver these checks,” said Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54. “It helps to ease some of the pain and suffering our members went through.”
Hard Rock and Local 54 executed a labor agreement prior to the casino’s opening.
Of the 450 Local 54 members who were former Taj Mahal employees, 385 were hired by Hard Rock and a total of 800 former Taj Mahal employees were given jobs with the new casino hotel.