Hoping to win back benefits that were cut by casino owner Carl Icahn, striking workers from the Trump Taj Mahal brought their protest from the Atlantic City, N.J., boardwalk to Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.
Several hundred workers descended on the General Motors building, where Icahn Enterprises(IEP) - Get Report is headquartered. Though the Taj Mahal still bears Donald J. Trump's name, Icahn took over Trump's final 10% stake in the business when Trump Entertainment Resorts emerged from bankruptcy protection for a fourth time, in February.
Joined by union workers from New York, the striking members of Unite Here Local 54 marched from Icahn's headquarters two blocks down Fifth Avenue to Trump Tower, headquarters of both Trump's business empire and presidential campaign. Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee for president; Icahn has endorsed him.
The strike, just entering its second week, has quickly drawn attention from high-profile Democrats hoping to link Trump and Icahn's business records to the presidential race. Last week, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton visited the picket line at the Trump Taj Mahal after delivering a speech on the boardwalk rebuking Trump's business practices.
People familiar with the union's plans predicted that the Atlantic City strike will continue for weeks or even months, and anticipate that labor issues will play a major role at the Democratic Convention later this month in nearby Philadelphia.
The Taj Mahal remains open, though on a recent weekday evening, business appeared muted. Icahn Enterprises also owns 68% of Tropicana Entertainment, which operates a nearby casino in Atlantic City. Last year, gaming contributed $26 million in net income to Icahn Enterprises, which had overall net losses of $1.2 billion.
Icahn, Trump Entertainment Resorts' biggest creditor before the most recent bankruptcy, forgave roughly $288 million in debt in exchange for full ownership. The bankruptcy reorganization plan hinged on massive tax concessions from state and local government and annual cuts of $15 million to healthcare and pension benefits for the roughly 1,000 Local 54 members employed by the company.
"Anything less than the union, city, state, and county meeting your demands in full would make it impossible to operate a viable company at this time," Icahn's lawyers wrote in a 2014 letter to Trump Entertainment Resorts. "Given the fragile state of the company, we believe any reorganization must foreclose any possibility of labor unrest."