Las Vegas Culinary Union Authorizes Strike

Las Vegas Casinos Contracts
AP Photo
– Las Vegas Casinos Contracts

Thousands of hospitality workers voted to approve a strike next month at several Las Vegas casinos and hotels if new contract agreements are not reached by June 1. 

About 25,000 members of the Culinary Union who work at 34 Las Vegas casino resorts gathered at the Thomas & Mack Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to cast ballots, with 99 percent opting to authorize the potential strike.
The vote allows the union to call a strike at anytime after June 1. The move does not necessarily mean the strike will take place but gives the union a powerful bargaining chip when negotiating new five-year contracts. 
The union’s current contracts expire midnight May 31 and cover about 50,000 workers, including bartenders, servers, room attendants, bellmen, cooks and kitchen workers. The strike would affect properties including Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Stratosphere, The D and El Cortez, among others. 
A strike could potentially lose the city millions of dollars. The last time the union voted for a strike was in 2002, but an agreement was made before workers walked out. The last strike took place in 1987 and lasted 67 days, losing union members about $75 million in wages and the city losing around the same amount in tourism revenue, 
according to the Associated Press.
A strike would mean trouble for fans planning on traveling to Vegas to watch the NHL Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena
It can also affect Las Vegas’ booming concert biz, including Gwen Stefani’s residency at the Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood kicking off in late June. Kevin Hart, Kesha / Macklemore, New Found Glory and
Union officials have said they plan on negotiating for higher wages, strengthen language against sexual harassment, and protect job security against the increasing use of technology in hotels and casinos. 
“I’m here to show the younger generations that this is the way we fight to maintain our jobs, job security, health benefits and to gain a pay raise,” Lewis Thomas, a utility porter at the Tropicana casino-hotel, said when union members were casting. “This will be a wake-up call to let (the companies) know we are together, we are united, we are not separated.”
MGM, who along with Caesars Entertainment operates half of the properties that would be affected by the strike, said in a statement that it will continue meeting with the union. 
“A vote such as this is an expected part of the process… We are confident that we can resolve the outstanding contract issues and will come to an agreement that works for all sides,” the company said, adding that it expects to reach an agreement “on or around June 1.”
Pollstar reached out to MGM, T-Mobile Arena and Vegas-based promoter Justice Entertainment Group for this story.