Red Rock Casino Must Initiate Contract Talks with Unions, Says Judge

Posted on: August 7, 2021, 03:35h. 

Last updated on: August 8, 2021, 11:15h.

Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa has been ordered by a federal judge to immediately begin negotiating labor contract talks with the leading casino union in Las Vegas.

Red Rock Casino union NLRB
The pool complex at Red Rock Casino Resort west of the Las Vegas Strip. The casino owned by Station Casinos is being forced to start conversations with two Nevada hospitality unions. (Image: Getty)

Judge Gloria Navarro of the US District Court of Nevada tossed out a petition from Red Rock’s parent entity — NP Red Rock LLC — to stay her earlier ruling forcing the casino to recognize and bargain with two area unions. Navarro’s latest decision directs Red Rock to sit down with leaders of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165. 

The court finds that Red Rock has failed to raise serious legal questions regarding the court’s order, and, even if Red Rock had succeeded in raising serious questions, it has not demonstrated that the balance of hardships tips sharply in its favor,” Navarro explained.

Red Rock, owned and operated by Station Casinos, argued that no such order should be imposed when there is an ongoing appeal in the legal matter. 

The casino added that requiring it to bargain with the unions will “cause irreparable harm” to the company. The casino said the order will damage its reputation and relationship with employees. But Navarro countered that the decree has already been made public and received media attention, rendering the reputational harm argument moot. 

Saga Continues

In 2019, amid efforts to unionize Red Rock’s 1,350 employees, Red Rock rolled out more generous benefits for workers. Among the added perks were increased 401(k) contributions, free health care for workers earning less than $20 per hour, and the company-wide elimination of HMO deductibles. 

The subsequent vote to unionize fell short. The NLRB contends that Red Rock essentially bribed votes by way of increased benefits.  

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), established in 1935, has the authority to decide and enforce complaints regarding unfair labor practices. The NLRB in April of 2020 consolidated 60 unfair labor practices grievances made by Red Rock workers into one legal review. 

The NLRB and an administrative law judge have yet to issue a formal decision on whether Red Rock purposely interfered with employees’ rights to decide whether to unionize. But in the meantime, the NLRB ordered Red Rock to begin negotiating with the unions. Red Rock appealed the mandate to Nevada’s federal district court. 

Navarro said NLRB Regional Director Cornele Overstreet, whose 28th district serves Las Vegas, presented sufficient evidence that Red Rock possibly interfered with an employee election. 

“Red Rock’s grant of benefits likely thwarted the union’s majority status,” Navarro declared. “Red Rock’s offer of benefits was a hallmark violation that justifies the issuance of an interim bargaining order.”

Employees Lose Voice?

Overstreet argues in her petition on behalf of the workers who filed NLRB complaints that Red Rock’s action were “so serious and substantial in character” that a fair election in the future cannot be held. 

Should the NLRB agree that Red Rock violated employee rights, Overstreet recommends remedying the issue by casting votes on behalf of workers based on “employees’ past signing of cards authorizing the union to represent them.”

Overstreet concludes that “is the best measure of whether they wish to be represented by the union.”