ATLANTIC CITY - The chief executive of Trump Entertainment Resorts asked billionaire Carl Icahn on Tuesday to keep the Trump Taj Mahal casino-hotel open well into 2015 while a union challenge to a court-ordered cost-cutting plan plays out.
The casino is due to shut down Saturday morning, but Bob Griffin told the Associated Press that he asked Icahn, who plans to take over the company, to keep it open during the appeal and afterward. That could mean the casino would not be in danger of closing until well into the first or second quarter of 2015.
Icahn did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He has proposed investing $100 million in the Taj Mahal, but only in return for substantial tax breaks.
"The state, city, and the union have all abandoned us," Griffin wrote in Tuesday's letter. "You are our last hope to find a solution that will keep the Taj open and save these 3,000 jobs."
Griffin said the bankrupt casino is losing $10 million a month.
It had set a deadline of 5 p.m. Monday for Local 54 of the Unite Here casino workers' union to drop its appeal of an Oct. 17 bankruptcy court ruling that terminated its contract with the Taj Mahal, and ended health insurance and pension coverage for workers there.
The casino is scheduled to close at 5:59 a.m. Saturday. It would be the fifth of Atlantic City's 12 casinos to go out of business this year.
The company has since offered to reinstate health coverage and contribute to a new pension plan the union has suggested it can support. But it has remained steadfast in its demand that the union drop its appeal of the court order, which also freed Trump Entertainment from implementing new work rules including increased room-cleaning quotas, the ability to outsource more jobs, and the elimination of paid meal breaks.
"I am asking you, on behalf of our company and our workers (including Local 54 workers), that you please consider agreeing to fund operations at the Taj through the duration of the appeal process, which we firmly believe we will win, and ultimately, that you agree to keep the Taj open if and when you gain control," Griffin wrote to Icahn. "I believe that if we can keep the Taj open, our company will emerge from bankruptcy as a viable going concern, which will benefit you, this city, this state, and all of our employees."
A financial assistance package for Atlantic City's eight casinos and for the city's municipal finances is making its way through the state legislature. It would let casinos make reduced payments in lieu of taxes for 15 years, help pay down Atlantic City's debt, and prohibit casino tax appeals that have wreaked havoc with city finances in recent years.