Las Vegas Casino Workers Are Setting The Stage For A Strike

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The Culinary and Bartenders Unions‘ more than 53,000 Las Vegas hospitality workers will hold a vote that could pave the way for a strike.

The unions announced that a vote will happen on Sept. 26, in which union members will choose whether or not they will allow the unions’ negotiating committee to call for a strike. It is a vote to allow leaders to vote on a strike, not a vote to strike.

The vote comes as the unions and Las Vegas’ top three employers negotiate a new five-year contract:

  1. MGM Resorts International
  2. Caesars Entertainment Corporate
  3. Wynn/Encore Resorts

Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said in a statement that the unions are fighting for a contract that would protect overworked union members and that the unions and Vegas employers are still “so far apart” in their negotiations:

“As companies reduce labor, there are less workers who have even more responsibilities and are doing more work instead of spending quality time with their families, and that has to change.

Workers have built this industry and made it successful and that’s why we are demanding that workers share in that prosperity. It’s disappointing that we are still so far apart from the casinos after months of negotiations with the largest three gaming companies in Las Vegas.”

The vote comes five years after the Culinary Union won its negotiations after workers voted to allow the union to call for a strike

Las Vegas casino workers fighting for wage increase and workload reduction

The unions’ list of demands encompasses several key areas of working conditions and pay:

  • The largest wage increase in the Culinary Union’s history
  • Easing housekeeping quotas
  • Moving to pre-pandemic daily room cleaning schedules
  • More security personnel in hotels and casinos to protect workers
  • Required training for any new technology introduced in the workplace
  • Job protection related to pandemics and economic crises

Housekeepers in the union argue that the current housekeeping schedules are untenable for workers. Hotels switched to intermittent room cleaning during the pandemic and have not switched back to daily cleanings.

This means Las Vegas casino hospitality workers have bigger workloads because rooms are dirtier.

“Daily room cleaning is a safety and workload issue,” Culinary Union member Evangelina Alaniz said. “When it’s been three or four days since I’ve been assigned to clean a room, I’m never sure what I’m going to find behind that door.”

Strike vote comes a month after Caesars’ boss  said he didn’t expect “drama”

The news of a strike vote is somewhat of a surprise considering Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg said in the company’s second-quarter earnings call last month.

“As we speak, there is work being done in terms of a new contract… you’re talking about complex stuff that takes a little while,” he said in the Caesars earnings call. “But I’d expect that we’ll have new agreements by the fall. And I’m not expecting a whole lot of drama around.”

In the MGM Resorts International Q2 earnings call CEO Tom Hornbuckle expressed the same confidence.

“You all know the culinary and the company—all of Las Vegas companies are now out in negotiating process, which is going well,” Hornbuckle said in the MGM Resorts earnings call. “We have decades of history with them on doing this. This town hasn’t seen a strike since the ’80s.”

However, he said the main sticking point in a new contract might be pay. “I think the big thing that’s going to impact us is going to be ultimately wage,” he said.

Hornbuckle’s comment about wages may have been prophetic, as the unions are not happy with the negotiations and drama seems inevitable.

Though the outcome is unknown, the Culinary and Bartenders Unions have a track record of success. They negotiated union contracts with the formerly ununionized Venetian and Palazzo earlier this year and won negotiations with the Palms Casino Resort in May.