Red Rock Ordered to Bargain with Culinary After Labor Board Ruling

The epic rivalry between Red Rock Resorts and the Culinary Union rolled on last week when the company was ordered by a federal labor board to bargain with the union in good faith after violating labor laws before an unsuccessful union election at Red Rock Resort (l.) in 2019.

Red Rock Ordered to Bargain with Culinary After Labor Board Ruling

The most contentious feud in Las Vegas got a little hotter June 18 when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that Red Rock Resorts violated federal labor laws by engaging in union-busting activities in the lead-up to a 2019 union election at the company’s Red Rock Resort that was ultimately voted down.

As a result, the NLRB ruled that the company must bargain in good faith with Culinary.

The case was classified as a Cemex order, a new precedent from 2023 that requires businesses to recognize and negotiate with a union if it is found to have violated labor laws, even if the election was unsuccessful.

The 81-page ruling was an affirmation of an April 2022 decision from an administrative judge that asserted Red Rock followed a “carefully crafted corporate strategy intentionally designed” to sway employees from unionizing.

A Red Rock spokesperson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the company is still reviewing its options but is likely to appeal. The decision can be appealed in federal court.

Non-gaming employees at three Red Rock properties—Palace Station, Boulder Station and the flagship Red Rock—campaigned to join Culinary and its affiliate Bartenders Local 165 from 2016 to 2019.

In the case of Red Rock in 2019, the board said that company officials violated labor laws in three ways, including “promising and granting employees tremendous new benefits without the Union, threatening to withhold or withdraw these benefits if employees selected the Union, and implicitly threatening that selecting the Union could only lead to years of fruitless bargaining without any improvement to working conditions.”

Another example cited by the board was a directive from management for cooks to serve free steaks in the employee dining room that were branded with the message “Vote No!”

Workers ultimately voted against unionization 627-534 in December of that year.

Several executives were said to have given unreliable testimony on the matter, including Chief Legal Officer Jeffrey Welch, Chief Financial Officer Steve Cootey, former Chief Operating Officer Robert Finch and others.

The board said that the officials “testified with such an unusual degree of evasiveness and wholly implausible forgetfulness that the judge was fully warranted in discounting their testimony as generally unreliable except where independently corroborated or against the [Red Rock Casino’s] interest.”

Culinary Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge was quick to issue a statement applauding the ruling.

“This decision affirms what we have been saying for years – that Station Casinos violated the law and the company must bargain with the union because of its unlawful actions that corrupted the prospect for a free and fair union election. Station Casinos needs to stop breaking the law and treat its workers with respect. This company is an outlier in the Nevada gaming industry and it will be held accountable by the federal government.”

Pappageorge also went on to call out the Fertitta family, leaders of Red Rock, as being “part of the Trump MAGA Machine in Nevada, but they, along with Donald Trump, are not above the law.”

The ruling is the latest in what has been a multi-year battle between the two sides that has spiraled into one of the biggest labor disputes in the entire U.S. Following Culinary’s sweep of contract agreements in the last year, Red Rock is now the biggest non-union operator in Las Vegas.