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Las Vegas Culinary Union Plans Protests at Caesars, MGM Casinos Next Week
In a potentially disruptive move, Culinary Local 226, a union representing 53,000 hospitality workers in Las Vegas, is edging closer to the brink of a significant strike. On Monday, the union mobilized its members, urging thousands to participate in protests outside eight casino resorts, with the objective of applying pressure on the owners to engage in negotiations for a new five-year labor contract.
Protests Envisioned with “Informational” Picket Lines
The union has orchestrated two-hour “informational” picket lines, scheduled to commence at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12. These protests are slated to unfold in front of Park MGM, Paris Las Vegas, and The Linq. Subsequently, picketers are anticipated to disperse to the sidewalks in front of Harrah’s, Flamingo, Horseshoe, Planet Hollywood, and New York-New York. It’s noteworthy that workers intend to partake in these demonstrations before or after their work shifts, as elaborated in a media release from Local 226. Furthermore, the union has made a public appeal for solidarity, urging individuals not to patronize casino resorts during an active picket line.
Historical Context: The 1984 Strike
Casting a historical shadow, Culinary Local 226’s previous strike dates back to 1984 when over 17,000 union workers, in tandem with three other unions, instigated what the union characterizes as “one of the largest strikes in Las Vegas history.” This industrial action persisted for a staggering 67 days.
Ongoing Negotiations and the Looming Strike
Presently, negotiations are ongoing between the union and the three prominent Strip employers: MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts. Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer of the union, voiced his disappointment concerning the progress of these negotiations in remarks to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday.
While a specific strike deadline has not yet been set, the union revealed last month that an overwhelming 95% of its Las Vegas restaurant and hotel workers had voted in favor of authorizing a strike as their existing contracts approached expiration. Notably, approximately 40,000 union members are currently laboring under expired contracts, positioning them as the likely initial participants in any strike action.
The union has underscored the existence of an “active labor dispute with 18 casino properties across the Las Vegas Strip,” asserting its capacity to call for a strike at any juncture. The union’s primary focus remains centered on MGM and Caesars properties, driven by its demand for revised no-strike clauses within the contracts, granting the union the authority to strike against non-union
restaurants situated on union properties—an issue absent in the case of Wynn.
Additional noteworthy proposals encompass substantial wage and benefit increases, augmented safety protocols and technology integration, as well as a reduction in the workload for guest room attendants.