Union Calls for Strike in Downtown Vegas

The Culinary and Bartenders unions in Las Vegas warn that they are ready, willing and able to organize a strike of hospitality workers at Downtown casinos if new contracts are not reached. Nine casinos remain unsettled.

Leaders of the Culinary and Bartenders unions in Las Vegas officials say they’re prepared to lead some 3,000 union members at nine casinos along Fremont Street on strike. The union members have already signed up for strike benefits and picket line shifts.

Contracts at the casinos expired June 1, 2013. Union members voted in March to authorize a strike.

The Golden Nugget casino downtown reached a five-year agreement with the unions in April. Casinos without a contract include the D, Four Queens, Fremont, Main Street Station, El Cortez, Binion’s, Golden Gate, the Plaza, and Las Vegas Club.

No date has been set for a strike, Local Culinary 226 spokeswoman Bethany Khan told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Every day we’ve been doing more and more preparation,” Khan said.

In a statement issued May 19, the union advised tourists and meeting planners of the labor disputes and the “risk of a strike.” “The union can now call for a strike at any time against these properties until they have new contracts,” the statement read.

“For nearly 80 years, our unions have made casino jobs good jobs in Las Vegas,” Geoconda Arguello-Kline, leader of the Culinary Union, said in a statement. “Our members downtown deserve to earn a decent living by working hard under a fair contract. They should not be left behind as hundreds of millions of new investments pour in for downtown revitalization.”

MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp., which together control a majority of properties on the Strip, previously negotiated new five-year union pacts. The independent Stratosphere, Riviera, Tropicana, and Treasure Island casinos have also settled, the Associated Press reported.

Agreements reached in November with MGM cover 26,000 of the unions’ 55,000 members. They kept employee health care costs from increasing, included provisions for more flexible scheduling, and included language that indicated a resolve to bring back workers laid off from restaurants closed during the recession.

The last strike in Las Vegas was at the Golden Gate casino in 2002, Khan said. The most infamous dispute started in 1991 at the Frontier casino and lasted six years, four months and 10 days.