Construction Union Protests Circus Circus Reno Remodel, Nevada State Contractors Board Levies Fine

Posted on: June 19, 2018, 10:30h. 

Last updated on: June 19, 2018, 11:04h.

Circus Circus Reno has been the target of protests by local labor union members who feel the contractor hired for the resort’s multimillion-dollar renovation job is cutting corners and violating construction safety standards.

Circus Circus Reno renovation union protest
Circus Circus executives aren’t commenting on purported violations committed by the contractor hired to renovate the resort. (Image: Ty O’Neil/This Is Reno/Circus Circus/

Parent company Eldorado Resorts hired Digney York Associates out of Virginia to renovate Circus Circus rooms. According to the contractor’s website, Digney is a hotel and resort interior renovation and remodeling firm.

Local unions feel Digney York’s work practices have been unacceptable.

“Not only are they hiring unlicensed contractors, they’re lowering the standards of construction and endangering the public with these violations,” Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 169 President Eloy Jara stated.

In April, an investigation conducted by the Nevada State Contractors Board (NSCB) found that Digney “knowingly” hired five subcontractors that were not licensed to work in the state. Digney was ordered to pay $21,500 in fines.

Digney York hasn’t commented publicly on the charges. Circus Circus and Eldorado have not been charged or fined for any wrongdoing.

Union Protests

Reno is in the midst of an economic boom. Gross gaming revenue in Washoe County was up 2.5 percent last year to $829.4 million, its highest mark since 2008.

Eldorado is investing tens of millions of dollars in combining its three casinos into a megaresort dubbed “The Row.” The properties, Circus Circus, Eldorado, and Silver Legacy, are being branded as a single destination.

MGM Resorts sold Circus Circus and its 50 percent stake in Silver Legacy to Eldorado Resorts for $72.5 million in 2015.

Union workers argue Eldorado is cutting corners, and the worksite poses serious risks to the public. Last Friday, union members from various organizations including the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, as well as the Laborers’ International Union, protested outside Circus Circus.

“They were not controlling their work zones,” one union member told This Is Reno, an online news source covering “The Biggest Little City in the World.”

“There are numerous public safety issues,” union member Trinity Presley stated. “When they’re loading and unloading all the materials, they’re not barricading the streets off.”

Casino Construction Safety

Constructing a casino resort in the US is a highly regulated endeavor. Since its passage in 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which created OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), seeks to assure safe and healthful working conditions for all workers “by setting and enforcing standards.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean every construction site is safe.

In April, a worker died on the job at Encore Boston Harbor, the $2.5 billion integrated casino resort being constructed by Wynn Resorts. The Boston Herald reported that the crane operator was crushed to death after a large piece of construction material fell onto his cab.

OSHA protects workers in all 50 states plus US territories including the Northern Marina Islands where a multibillion-dollar integrated casino is being built in Saipan. Despite at least one worker death and the FBI raiding the construction site on suspicion of labor violations, developers say “OSHA … has come in and given us the blessing” to finish construction on the much-delayed project.