Dozens arrested in Trump Taj Mahal protests in Atlantic City

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Thursday, October 9, 2014
VIDEO: Dozens arrested in Trump Taj Mahal protests
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Dozens of people were arrested as more than 100 casino workers shut down the expressway entrance to Atlantic City in protest.

ATLANTIC CITY (WPVI) -- More than 100 casino workers, members of Local 54 and others, shut down the expressway entrance to Atlantic City on Wednesday afternoon.

About 30 union members and others were arrested after failing to stop blocking the roadway, which was reopened after about 40 minutes.

The move was deemed 'an act of civil disobedience' to protest contract givebacks to keep the Trump Taj Mahal open.

Trump Entertainment Resorts is threatening to close the casino-hotel on November 13th unless the union gives up its health insurance and pension plan.

The union says they are not planning to comply with that demand.

"We're not gonna give it up and we're gonna negotiate this contract on the street, not on the table," said Bob McDevitt, union president.

The company has asked Billionaire investor Carl Icahn to take over and invest 100 million to keep the Trump Taj Mahal open.

Icahn also owns the Tropicana and won't agree to contract extension without the concessions.

"Six major operators have extended the contract until March so we can get through this catastrophe that we're dealing with. At the same time, the Tropicana and Trump have decided to try to destroy the workers and their quality of life," said McDevitt.

Four of Atlantic City's 12 casinos have already closed this year, although Revel's new owner plans to re-open it.

Icahn was unavailable for comment but tells the Associated Press that he's the one that rescued Tropicana from bankruptcy four years ago, saving union jobs.

He goes on to say that the union needs to make concessions to help save Atlantic City's casino industry.

However 46-year-old Paul Smith, a cook at Trump Taj Mahal for 21 years, says he suffered a massive heart attack a few years back and is grateful he had insurance.

"My co-pay was well over a million dollars for a six day stay in the hospital. Without insurance I wouldn't be able to put a roof over my children's head and feed them," said Smith.

It's a volatile issue with no easy answers and right now it seems to have reached a stalemate. The livelihood of hundreds is at stake along with the future of yet another Atlantic City casino.