Vegas Unions Settle With Caesar’s, Strike Looms At 25 Other Casinos

By Neat Pour Staff |

The deadline for a massive service industry strike came and went at 12:01am on this (6.01) morning. The result is a mixed bag. Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, managed to reach a deal with Caesar’s sparing the conglomerate’s nine properties from a strike. However, at 25 other Vegas properties contracts have expired, union members are setting up Strike HQ and preparing to picket.

As stacks of picket signs rose outside the new HQ, the union declined to provide many more details. “We are going to call the strike when we say we need to go on strike,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union in a statement.

The workers are demanding a new, five year contract with measures including protections against sexual abuse, workplace safety, a balance between tech & human labor, and pay increases.

Union members include Vegas bartenders, guest room attendants, cocktail servers, food servers, porters, bellman, cooks, and kitchen workers. The 34 targeted casino resorts feature properties owned by some big names like MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment Corporation, Penn National, Golden Entertainment, Boyd Gaming, as well as a host of other familiar Sin City destinations.

Several issues in the news are manifest in the unions’ demands. Sexual harassment is a nationwide problem, but in Nevada it is almost ingrained in the “stays in Vegas” casino culture where it is common for patrons to harass, grope, and solicit staff. Poster-boy Steve Wynn, a casino magnate (Bellagio, Mirage) and G.O.P. mega-donor, was accused of dozens of acts of sexual misconduct in January 2018. After public outcry, Wynn resigned from his roles as CEO of Wynn Resorts and as Finance Chair for the Republican National Committee.

Likewise, workplace security and safety are not abstract concepts for casino workers. On October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on the crowd at Las Vegas concert killing 58 people and injuring 851 others.

In 2002, the unions voted to authorize a strike, but a resolution was reached before the work stoppage. The last city-wide strike was in 1984 and lasted 67 days. At the time, tourism officials estimated a loss of $75 million. Vegas is currently preparing those their first NHL Stanley Cup Finals, the World Series of Poker, and an influx of sports book betting tied to the FIFA World Cup. The losses could be significantly higher this time around.

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