Red Rock Casino Workers Reject Court Order to Begin Union Bargaining

Posted on: August 27, 2021, 12:02h. 

Last updated on: August 27, 2021, 11:51h.

Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa employees in Las Vegas are firing back at a district court order requiring the labor force to begin initial negotiations with a union in Southern Nevada.

Red Rock Casino Culinary Union
Station Casinos employees picket outside the Culinary Union headquarters on Sunday, August 22. Workers at Red Rock Casino are defending their right to avoid joining the labor group. (Image: KTNV)

Earlier this month, US District Court of Nevada Judge Gloria Navarro ordered Red Rock to recognize the Culinary Union and begin bargaining with the labor group. Navarro concluded in her opinion that Station Casinos and NP Red Rock LLC, the casino’s parent entities, interfered with workers’ right to unionize.

Navarro ruled that the Station Casinos’ property greatly increased worker benefits ahead of the union election, thereby influencing employees to vote against unionizing. Navarro agreed with Cornele Overstreet, regional director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in her claim that Red Rock ownership did not allow a fair vote.

As the NLRB review continues because of appeals made by Station Casinos, Navarro has instructed Red Rock management to sit down with union officials to begin negotiating contract terms for workers.

Culinary represents some 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno employed at casino resorts. Its members provide an array of non-gaming roles, such as cooks, food and beverage servers, housekeepers, porters, bellhops, and laundry attendants.

Vote Validity

The litigation essentially boils down to whether the Red Rock Casino vote to unionize was fair. In an amicus brief filed on behalf of workers by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRWLDF), a nonprofit legal aid organization, the argument is made that if Red Rock’s staff wished to unionize, it would and could have.

Red Rock workers held their secret union vote in December of 2019. The tally came back with 627 “no” votes to 534 “yes” votes. Overstreet filed a federal court injunction seeking to require Red Rock to bargain with the union anyway, based on claims that a previous “card check” showed that a majority of the team members wished to join Culinary.

It is outrageous that the judge’s order imposing unwanted unionization brushes aside the workers’ contrary preference clearly demonstrated in the secret ballot vote,” said NRWLDF President Mark Mix.

Mix argues that pre-vote union authorization cards are unreliable. “Secret ballots are a far more reliable way of gauging worker support for a union because workers are often pressured, harassed, or misled by union organizers into signing cards,” the NRWLDF opined.

“If federal labor law is to be about defending the rights and freedoms of rank-and-file workers, then the Court of Appeals should promptly overturn Judge Navarro’s order substituting the wishes of NLRB bureaucrats for the actual choice workers made at the ballot box,” Mix added.

Brief Purpose

Leah Ward Seals, a litigation partner at Smith, Gambrell & Russell in Atlanta, says amicus briefs are filed to assist an appellate court by offering additional, relevant information and/or arguments the court may want to take into consideration before issuing a ruling.

People or groups not directly named in a case are able to submit such briefs. The point of the arguments is to show the court that its ruling will have a substantial impact on people other than the parties directly involved.

Many of the Red Rock workers who oppose being forced to unionize demonstrated their antagonism over the weekend outside the Culinary Union headquarters in Las Vegas. The union shrugged off the demonstration, Culinary Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline calling it a “publicity stunt.”