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Latest News - September 2013

September 16, 2013
Concerns Grow Over a Possible Strike by Culinary Union
Aaron Drawhorn

The Las Vegas Strip could see its biggest strike in nearly 30 years.

Contracts for 44,000 unionized workers expired June 1.

While talks between the Culinary Union and resorts go on, labor leaders are urging Las Vegas to prepare for a strike.

Critics say a shutdown threat is all union posturing, but the Culinary Union has even reached out to Wall Street, warning a strike could be crippling.

The last citywide strike was in 1984, and it was huge. Las Vegas today is bigger and richer.

Las Vegas attracts around 40 million visitors a year, but in 1984, when less than 13 million people came here annually, a citywide strike got nasty.

Outside hotels on the picket line, Metro Police went on high alert and dozens of culinary union members ended up in jail.

Inside, staff was brought in from out-of-state to cover shifts at restaurants and long lines of waiting tourists formed.

Now, 29 years later, the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 says it does not want to strike.

However, in a report to Wall Street investors at-large, the Culinary Union said, "simmering tensions in negotiations now appear likely to boil over as the weather cools and the city enters its busy fall season."

"We know, probably at the end, we're going to have somebody, some of the companies, that say no," secretary-treasurer with the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 Geoconda Argüello-Kline said.

From food and beverage to housekeeping, 44,000 workers, including employees of Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International, want better pay and benefits.

A statement from the gaming giant reads, "MGM Resorts' discussions with the unions remain substantive and we are confident we will arrive at a contract agreement shortly."

The nonprofit group the Alliance to Protect Nevada Jobs calls what the union is doing "guerilla tactics," and it says negotiations should be able to take place without threats.

According to its website, the alliance's "mission is to protect jobs in Nevada and stand up for the workers and small business owners in the state who grow the economy and create opportunities."

"Just the threat of a citywide strike is damaging," Ron Futrell spokesperson for the alliance said. "I hope it doesn't come down to a citywide strike. Nobody wants to see that happen. The last one was a brawl on the Strip."

A strike is a last resort for all, and for now, the casinos and union are still at the bargaining table. More than 30 properties are affected in these contract talks.

Some of the big casinos not affected include the Venetian and Palazzo, as well as the Wynn and the Encore.

In May, union members approved to raise dues by $25 to support striking workers, if it comes to that this fall.




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