Las Vegas Union Representing 50,000 Resort Workers Threatens Strike, Walkout Would Cripple City

Posted on: May 10, 2018, 10:30h. 

Last updated on: May 10, 2018, 06:41h.

The largest Las Vegas union in gaming and hospitality is threatening resort and casino operators with a strike that could see as many as 50,000 workers walk off the job.

Las Vegas union casino strike
Las Vegas union members could go on strike as early as June 1. (Image: John Locher/Associated Press)

The Culinary Union, a branch of the nationwide Unite Here labor organization, will hold a vote May 22 at the Thomas & Mack Center of the University of Nevada Las Vegas where union members will decide whether to authorize a strike. Should a majority support a protest, union leaders will possess the power to initiate a walkout any time after contracts expire on June 1, 2018.

“On May 22, thousands of union members will show casino employers that workers are going to fight for security and that they are not going to be left behind as companies are making record profits and getting windfall tax breaks,” Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline said in a release.

Contracts are set to terminate at 34 casinos and resorts on the Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. They include 10 MGM Resorts and eight Caesars Entertainment properties.

Strip casinos not be impacted include Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, The Venetian, and The Palazzo.

Though gaming unions have threatened strikes before in Las Vegas, the last walkout to actually occur took place back in 1984. The protest lasted 67 days.

Companies Confident

The Culinary Union represents various casino resort workers. With 57,000 total members, the labor group includes cooks, bartenders, cocktail and food servers, housekeep employees, bellmen, and porters.

A look at the union casinos where contracts are set to expire at the end of the month clearly shows just how financially devastating a strike would be on Las Vegas tourism and gaming.

Strikes could ensue at  marquee Strip casinos including Bellagio, MGM Grand, Monte Carlo (now Park MGM), and Aria. Caesars properties include Caesars Palace, Harrah’s, Paris, and Planet Hollywood.

The potential walkout would also take place at Penn National Gaming’s Tropicana, Stratosphere, SLS Las Vegas, and Westgate. Downtown, resorts including Golden Nugget, The D, and Binion’s would all likely shutter operations.

MGM, the largest casino operator in Las Vegas and Nevada’s largest employer, is confident the contract dispute will be resolved.

“MGM Resorts and the Culinary Unions have always been great partners,” MGM said in a statement to the Associated Press. “We have issues to address, but we’re confident we will find mutually beneficial solutions to all our contract issues.”

Contract Demands

Las Vegas union officials are looking to increase wages, protect existing benefits, and strengthen policies to curb sexual misconduct. The latter is most important to Rio cocktail server Jocelyn Cegbalic.

“Casino corporations cannot continue to normalize sexual misconduct by high rollers,” Cegbalic stated. “I shouldn’t have to endure harassment from guests who think they can abuse us just because they are on vacation.”

Another sticking point for contract negotiations is to equip housekeepers with so-called “panic buttons,” a device that would alert resort security should they come into a threatening situation. Caesars wants such personnel to inspect rooms that display “do not disturb” signs longer than 24 hours. Union workers have fought back saying that falls beyond the scope of their responsibilities.