Las Vegas Strip Protest Leads to Arrest of 75 Union Members

Posted on: October 26, 2023, 05:01h. 

Last updated on: October 27, 2023, 12:46h.

Some 75 Culinary Union members and officials were arrested Wednesday evening after they blocked traffic on Las Vegas Boulevard. It was part of an effort to highlight their current labor dispute with casinos.

Protesting Culinary Union members
Protesting Culinary Union members are led away by police on the Las Vegas Strip, pictured above. Some 75 were arrested. (Image: KTNV)

Protestors stopped rush-hour vehicles in both directions on the famous thoroughfare for about a half- hour near the Paris Las Vegas and Bellagio casinos.

Initially, protestors picketed, chanted, sang and danced to tunes provided by a DJ on the sidewalk. But at one point, dozens of individuals walked into the middle of the road, formed two circles and sat down on the pavement, refusing to move.

After several minutes, local police began apprehending those participating in the civil disobedience. Officers restrained them by placing zip ties on their wrists. They were led onto a police bus and later processed.

Other workers cheered as each person was arrested, according to the Las Vegas Sun. The apprehended protestors appeared to cooperate with officers.

Culinary Union members sit down on the Las Vegas Strip
Culinary Union members sit down on the Las Vegas Strip to block traffic shortly before being arrested. (Image: KSNV)

Most, if not all, were cited for a relatively minor misdemeanor: assembling to disturb the peace, according to the Associated Press.

The Culinary Union organized the protest and said it would pay for the legal fees and any bond for those arrested. It appears those arrested were mostly shop stewards, according to Sun. That means they represent other union members at workplaces.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) Lt. Mark Lourenco later told local media the event was “peaceful.”

Union Members Speak Out

Leslie Lilla, a cocktail server at the Bellagio, was among those cited by the police.

You never want to get arrested,” Lilla told the Sun. “You always want to be a law-abiding citizen. But our country allows us to peacefully protest, and do disobedient actions to show and prove a point.”

Another person arrested was Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge, according to Las Vegas TV station KLAS. He pointed to the loyalty of his union members.

“They are willing to do whatever it takes, including nonviolent civil disobedience. They are willing to get arrested to fight for their contract and fight for their families. We think that is something that the public will support,” Pappageorge told KLAS.

Detroit Strikers Show Support

Across the country, some 3,700 casino workers in Detroit, Mich., continue in their second week of a strike. It’s supported by many local politicians.

Some of the striking workers at the MGM Grand Detroit showed up on the Strip on Wednesday to join in the Las Vegas protest, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Last month, the 60K-member Culinary Union overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike. Some 40K of the union members are working without a contract. They want a five-year agreement. Salary, workload, and job security are among the unresolved issues. The two sides continue to meet this week.

Representatives from MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts didn’t release an immediate comment on Wednesday’s rally.