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The Supreme Court Faces a Different Trump Contest

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The Supreme Court Faces a Different Trump Contest
Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.
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Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.
Credit: Sean Pavone/iStockphoto.com

The name “Trump” is on ballots, hotels, casinos and now a U.S. Supreme Court petition.

The justices on Thursday are scheduled to take their first look at Unite Here Local 54 v. Trump Entertainment Resorts, a case that arose out of the bankruptcy of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The legal issue involves the authority of bankruptcy courts, but the fallout suffered by union workers may not enhance presumptive GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign message. And if the high court agrees to hear the case, it could add to distractions during the fall campaign.

The union, which represents about 1,100 of the 3,000 Taj workers, asks the justices to review a January decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The appeals court upheld a bankruptcy judge’s 2014 ruling that Trump Entertainment could alter its contract with Local 54 and stop funding the union’s health care and pensions as part of its reorganization plan.

The National Labor Relations Board filed an amicus brief supporting the union in the Third Circuit.

The union’s petition asks the justices whether “a bankruptcy court may authorize a unionized debtor employer to abolish its employees’ pensions, health coverage and other benefits without complying with its bargaining obligations under the National Labor Relations Act, when no collective bargaining agreement exists.”

Trump founded the casino, which is owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts, in 1990. He sold majority ownership of the company in 2012. The company went into bankruptcy in 2014 due to a loss of $25 million in 2013. Trump gave up his remaining 10 percent stake in the company earlier this year.

Wall Street magnate Carl Icahn is expected to take over the casino resort when it exits bankruptcy.

In the high court, the union is represented by Richard McCracken of San Francisco’s Davis Cowell & Bowe, international counsel to United Here. Trump Entertainment’s counsel is Dechert Hartford partner G. Eric Brunstad Jr., a veteran high court litigator of bankruptcy cases. Brunstad wants the justices to deny the union’s petition.

 

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