Culinary Union Declares Victory after Station Casinos Loses Court Appeal on Green Valley Ranch Recognition

Posted on: January 24, 2020, 05:23h. 

Last updated on: January 24, 2020, 05:34h.

Nevada’s Green Valley Ranch employees are anticipating that the Culinary Workers Union will soon schedule meetings to negotiate the first contract between many of them and Station Casinos, which owns the gaming property, following a court ruling.

Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, says the Nevada union looks forward to negotiating a contract for Green Valley Ranch workers. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The union, which represents some 900 Green Valley culinary and bartending workers, says they won a long-awaited triumph last week after the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with the employees regarding Station’s appeal challenging union representation.

The Green Valley ruling is the first of several pending company appeals to be settled, the union says. So, Station Casinos may sit down to negotiate with the union for workers it represents at other company properties, too.

Ruling Is ‘New Phase’ in Union Effort

“The settlement represents a new phase of the Culinary [Union’s] campaign to get a union contract for the workers at several Stations’ properties,” says Ruben Garcia, co-director of the Workplace Law Program at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law.

It appears the union has already made a demand to bargain, so the law requires the employer and the union to meet and confer at reasonable times and places to reach an agreement,” Garcia explained to “How long that takes depends on how many issues are difficult for the parties to resolve.”

Garcia notes this “would be the first bargaining at any Stations’ property in the Las Vegas Valley.”  Stations has a limited number of ways to challenge the union recognition and bargaining process.

“As the settlement says, the employer cannot deal directly with employees or make changes that are designed to erode the employees support of the union,” Garcia said. “As we have seen, winning secret ballot elections by large margins does not automatically result in union contracts for workers. Employers have many routes to appeal, but eventually those appeals are exhausted, and they have a legal obligation to bargain in good faith with the elected representative of their employees.”

When asked if the latest judicial ruling is a victory for the union, Garcia said, “We’ve seen the union win several of these NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] supervised secret ballot elections at Station Casinos by large margins.

Other appeals are pending in some of those other properties. But it’s unclear that the circumstances of those appeals are much different than the one that the DC Circuit Court rejected. A settlement of those appeals is always possible as well.  This could be the beginning of a constructive relationship between the parties similar to ones that exist on the Strip.”

On Thursday, the Culinary Workers Union released a statement that Stations has “finally dropped all of its unfounded and unsuccessful challenges to union representation” at Green Valley.

Next, the NLRB will enforce a June 2019 agreement which requires the company to negotiate with the union, the statement said. The Culinary Workers Union also sent a letter to the company requesting bargaining dates.

“It’s shameful that Station Casinos has spent years fighting the democratic votes of their employees,” Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, adds in the statement. “Workers voted to have a union contract that would guarantee their protections on the job so they could provide for their families without being worried. We look forward to negotiating and winning a contract at Green Valley Ranch.”

The union says it represents varied Station Casinos workers, including guest room attendants, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks, bartenders, as well as laundry and kitchen workers.

In November 2017, some 730 Green Valley Ranch workers voted by 78 percent in favor of unionizing. “Station Casinos had tried to overturn the election through a series of unsuccessful and lengthy legal challenges,” the union statement claims.

Workers at Seven Station Casinos Properties Want Union Contract

Altogether, workers at seven Station Casinos Nevada properties are vying for a union contract. Beyond Green Valley, these include Boulder Station, Palace Station, Palms, Sunset Station, Fiesta Rancho, and Fiesta Henderson.

Last May, the NLRB ordered the company to bargain with employees at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Red Rock Resorts is the parent company of Station Casinos, following an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2016.

The company is co-owned by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, supporters of President Donald Trump. Station Casinos declined to comment to on the union’s recent statement.

In December, employees at the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas voted against joining the Culinary Workers Union. Last month, the union claimed the election was interfered with because Red Rock recently announced increased contributions to worker retirement plans, while eliminating premiums and deductibles on staffers health insurance.

Station Casinos repeatedly promised in statements its management would respect their employees’ right to unionize through an NLRB supervised election, the union recalls.

Also, any changes the company made in Green Valley worker wages, hours, or seniority since 2017 must be reversed and negotiated with the union, the Culinary Workers Union statement further claims.

Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 are Nevada affiliates of the national Unite Here union. Altogether, the union represents some 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno. Internationally, Unite Here represents some 300,000 workers in the gaming, hotel, and food service sectors.