NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO FIGHT. NOW IS THE TIME TO STOP AND ASK,
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP SAVE THE TAJ?
I grew up on the streets of Queens. I learned to fight bullies and that was great training because I later built my fortune fighting the establishment – mostly CEOs and Boards that I felt were taking advantage of the shareholders. I’ve fought “mendacity” at hundreds of companies, including companies as large as US Steel and Motorola. I was always the underdog, but I often came out ahead, making a great deal of money for all shareholders as well as for myself. My nature is such that I can’t just sit back and let Local 54 President McDevitt and Senator Sweeney keep telling falsehoods about me and what is happening at the Taj Mahal.
A little over a month ago, the Company came to me and told me that they couldn’t get anyone to invest in the Taj Mahal and they would be out of money in a few short months. Several years ago we invested over $80 million to save the Tropicana when no one else would, and I saved it. However, the Taj is in far worse financial shape than almost any company I have ever analyzed. I therefore told Taj management that I had no interest in investing.
However, they did not give up and spent several days trying to convince me that if they could obtain certain enumerated concessions from the Union, State and City, they believed that with a $100 million investment from me, there would be a good chance that the Taj Mahal could avoid closing. But, as U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Gross stated in his opinion earlier this week, the Company’s “financial situation is desperate”, and therefore given the Taj Mahal’s dire circumstances, I again declined. But, the Company still did not give up trying to convince me and kept making the point that almost 3,000 jobs could be saved. Against the counsel of my advisors, I finally agreed to invest the $100 million, but only if they could get the enumerated concessions.
In my discussions with the Company, I was also assured that eliminating Union healthcare would not be detrimental to low-wage employees because under the Company’s plan all full-time employees would be paid an additional $2,000 in wages and would be eligible for healthcare under Obamacare or Medicaid.
The Union and Sweeney are now inexplicably accusing me of trying to take advantage of this situation even though no one else in the world, including the hedge funds that have sat on the Company’s Board for the past 3 years, are willing to invest one dollar in the Company. They are also attacking and blaming me for the problems at the Taj Mahal, which is especially ironic since I have never had any management role or ownership interest in the Taj Mahal.
McDevitt and Sweeney keep pounding their chests and spewing forth slanderous nonsense, but one overriding fact is perfectly clear: The Taj Mahal is quickly running out of money and will almost certainly close. Reprehensibly, the Union, instead of working with, and trying to help, the Company to keep the Taj Mahal alive, is instead doing everything to destroy the possibility of saving the jobs of almost 3,000 employees. I will not walk away from the commitment I made to the Company to invest $100 million if the City and State make the required investment; but I must admit I wish I never took the Company’s phone call. Things have gotten even worse at the Taj since I agreed, and my advisors are actually telling me that if the City and State don’t agree to the Company’s plan, they will actually be doing me a great favor and probably saving me a $100 million.
YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF: “WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP SAVE THE TAJ MAHAL AND MY JOB?”
Local 54 has told you to “stand up and fight” and today they’re holding yet another rally! But, now isn’t the time to fight, now is the time to stop and ask: “what can I do to help save the Taj Mahal and my job?” Local 54 wants you to rally against management’s plan to save the Taj Mahal. What I can’t understand is why instead your Union isn’t doing everything they possibly can to ensure the Taj Mahal stays open and you keep your jobs?
Earlier this week Judge Gross, wrote:
The Court will not speculate why the Union failed to negotiate in good faith with the [Company]…The Court continues to be concerned that whatever the Union’s reasons, the Union did not take action to advance the interests of Taj Mahal employees… [Emphasis added.]
I concur with Judge Gross and similarly have no idea why your Union isn’t laser-focused on your interests and your jobs. However, where I depart from Judge Gross is that I can and will speculate as to the Union’s reasons.
WHY IS THE UNION PRIORITIZING HEALTHCARE OVER SAVING JOBS?
Based on the Union’s continued chest pounding about “saving health care” the only thing I have concluded these past few weeks is that the Union is far more concerned about maintaining a Union provided healthcare plan than saving your jobs. It’s reprehensible.
Given that the Union seems to have prioritized healthcare over jobs, I have to wonder why the Union’s leadership is so concerned about the Union healthcare plan? For me, it raises serious questions about the healthcare fund: Who is on the payroll? Where do all those millions of dollars provided by the cash-strapped Taj Mahal to the Union, ostensibly for healthcare, actually go? Who is really benefitting from the existence of the Union healthcare fund, you or the Union’s leadership? Is the Union healthcare fund solvent, or does it suffer from the same dire straits as the Union pension fund? As a creditor, I intend to investigate.
IN THE END – IT’S SIMPLE
In fact, it’s very simple. The Taj Mahal is at the brink of closing. The Union could be helping right now. They could be helping Taj management with the City and State. Instead, they are rallying you to stand up and fight. But fight who and for what? Are they sacrificing you to save the Union’s cherished healthcare plans at the other Union hotels that survive partially as a result of the Taj Mahal closing? Is the Union your friend or your foe? Perhaps you should ask them.