Station Casinos, Red Rock Resort Ordered to Bargain with Culinary Union

Posted on: November 30, 2021, 08:30h. 

Last updated on: November 30, 2021, 07:12h.

Station Casinos and its Red Rock Casino Resort west of the Las Vegas Strip in Summerlin have been ordered to engage in labor negotiations with the leading casino workers’ union in Nevada.

Station Casinos Red Rock Culinary Union Las Vegas
A cocktail server at Red Rock Casino serves drinks in a June 2020 file photo. Red Rock’s parent company Station Casinos has been ordered to negotiate with the Culinary Union. (Image: Las Vegas Sun)

A federal appeals court ruled last Friday that Red Rock Casino must immediately enter into contract discussions with the Culinary Union. A separate legal case regarding whether Station interfered with a unionization effort at the property in late 2019 is still playing out at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The NLRB is reviewing allegations that Station Casinos greatly increased benefits for Red Rock Casino employees as a tactic. That happened just days before those workers decided whether to unionize and become represented by the Culinary Union.

The December 2019 vote ultimately failed, which prompted union officials and certain workers to file a consolidated complaint with the NLRB.

Judges Side with Union

Station Casinos has maintained that its decision to improve pay and benefits for its Red Rock staff was not designed to sway employees into deciding against joining the Culinary Union.

US District Judge Gloria Navarro ruled in July that Station should begin negotiations with the union as the NLRB challenge continues. The Nevada locals-focused casino operator appealed the ruling to the US 9th Circuit, which upheld Navarro’s decision.

New employee benefits were announced just days before the union election, and there was extensive evidence that those benefits were designed to discourage union support,” the 9th Circuit panel ruled.

Station Casinos did not immediately respond to media inquiries regarding the latest court ruling. The company could further appeal the matter to the full 9th Circuit or the US Supreme Court.

The Culinary Union, however, celebrated the 9th Circuit determination.

“Just like Judge Navarro before it, the 9th Circuit saw Station Casinos’ grant of benefits right before the election at Red Rock for what it was — a poorly disguised effort to take away union power and to discourage workers from unionizing. This is another victory for workers who stood up and organized to have a union at Red Rock Casino,” declared Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline.

NLRB Process

The NLRB is an independent agency of the US federal government. The department works to assure fair labor practices and workplace democracy nationwide.

The NLRB has legal authority regarding labor practices over most private sector employers, including commercial casinos. One of the agency’s primary duties is conducting investigations when a worker and/or union files a complaint with the board alleging that workers’ federal rights have been violated.

The NLRB says it encourages employers and their workers/unions to settle their differences out of court. The agency says that more than 90 percent of “meritorious unfair labor practice cases are settled by agreement at some point in the process.”

However, Station Casinos/Red Rock vs. Culinary might fall into that 10 percent category. Station, owned by Republican megadonors Frank III and Lorenzo Fertitta, has long sought to keep their casinos union-free.

Station said previously that the company was discussing new pay and benefits packages for Red Rock Casino workers “weeks and even months” before the union vote. The NLRB process, attorneys for the casino argue, is an attempt to replace “employee choice at the ballot box with judicial fiat.”