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Latest News - March 2012

March 23, 2012
Union chief considers national boycott of Station Casinos
Source: Las Vegas Review Journal
By: Howard Stutz

The president of the national AFL-CIO said a nationwide boycott of Station Casinos is under consideration, but stopped just short of calling for one at a Thursday news conference in Las Vegas.

Richard Trumka, president of the national AFL-CIO, which represents some 11 million workers, was in Las Vegas to lend support for the ongoing campaign by Culinary Local 226, which is leading the charge to organize some 5,000 of Station Casinos' 13,000 workers.

Trumka and Culinary Secretary-Treasurer D. Taylor called the event, which included 40 Station employees, a "celebration" because "several thousand" Station Casinos employees had signed petitions seeking a "fair process" that would allow the union to organize a large chunk of the company's workforce.

A large blowup of the petitions adorned the walls behind the workers and labor officials at the union's news conference in the Culinary headquarters.

Taylor said the employees planned to deliver the petitions to Station Casinos executives during a Thursday evening rally in front of the Red Rock Resort. Taylor said the significance was that Station employees want to be front-and-center in seeking a negotiated labor contract. He was critical of news coverage that has focused on Culinary's long-running campaign aimed at Station and some of its business partners.

"The media has been lazy. This is not Culinary versus Station Casinos. This is employees versus Station Casinos," Taylor said.

The Culinary advocates a card-check process that would allow Station employees to organize if a majority of workers simply sign a card provided by the union. That system has been criticized by business groups because it allows organizers to identify each worker by choice.

Station Casinos executives say they would not oppose a secret-ballot vote overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.

"We respect the rights of our team members to join a union if that's what they choose," Station Casinos spokeswoman Lori Nelson said. "What's incredibly ironic is that the Culinary union has been trying to organize our employees for more than a decade and if they allowed for a secret-ballot election, this would all be over. We have yet to hear from the Culinary union why our employees can't go behind a private curtain to vote yes or no if they want to be represented by the union."

Trumka, a former president of the United Mine Workers and a national AFL-CIO leader since 1995, participated in some of Culinary's high-profile battles in Las Vegas, including strikes against Binion's and the New Frontier. He touched on several of the union key arguments against Station Casinos, including a ruling in September by a National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge who found that Station Casinos committed 88 acts of unfair labor practices. The ruling has yet to be reviewed by the National Labor Relations Board.

Several employees who were involved in the charges attended the news conference, including Jose Alonzo, a Santa Fe Station kitchen worker for the past six years. Through an interpreter, Alonzo said he was harassed by management for his union organizing activities.

"There is still spying on behalf of the managers," Alonzo said. "I'm fighting for my rights, and I'm working like I should."

In an interview following the news conference, Trumka said the national organization has partnered with unaffiliated groups around the country seeking union representation, including car wash employees in Los Angeles, day laborers and domestic workers. He said the AFL-CIO has provided legal and financial assistance for various groups and would do the same with Station Casinos workers.

"We're going to stand with them. There are a number of things we can do," Trumka, adding that the organization has not ruled out calling for a national boycott of Station Casinos' 18 properties in Las Vegas.

"That's on the table, yes," Trumka said.

Thursday night's rally started at about 6 p.m. at Red Rock Resort -- the same time the casino was to host "The Knight of the Gael" fundraising dinner that benefits Bishop Gorman High School, a Catholic school supported financially by the Fertitta family, founders of Station Casinos. The Culinary has come under fire for the timing of its rally.

Taylor said the Red Rock Resort was chosen, rather than another Station Casinos property, because it is also home of the company's corporate headquarters.

Father Clete Kilroy, who works for the Culinary's national organization, said he contacted school officials and the local diocese to smooth over any concerns.




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